Talk to a Tykling: Ashley Blakely, Marketing Campaign Manager

Getting to know Ashley Blakely, Marketing Campaign Manager

Tyk was born out of a desire to make things better. And to make things, better. To that end, we’ve carefully recruited a hugely diverse team of talented folk who are spread around the globe (25 countries and counting). 

These are the people who make our company what it is and allow our product to shine. But who are they and what makes them tick? Our Talk to a Tykling interview series reveals all…

Most recently, we chatted with Ashley Blakely, Tyk’s Marketing Campaign Manager, uncovering everything from creative veganism to budgeting for fun. 

What do you do at Tyk?

I am Tyk’s Marketing and Campaign Manager. That involves a couple of different things, but overall my job is to really promote Tyk’s enterprise offering. 

We have a loose definition of what we consider enterprise! My job is to promote our enterprise software through talking to enterprise customers. Essentially, I interact with those who need the capabilities of our enterprise offering. 

I do that via global multichannel marketing campaigns and marketing insights based on what we’re seeing as a result of different campaigns… and doing that across the web, email, social, paid ads and so on. 

It’s a lot of different things, but the core is about getting in front of potential new users and helping nurture those leads to be marketing qualified leads and then to be sales qualified leads, so our commercial team can take over from there. 

How involved do you get with wider brand development?

On the marketing side I help out with follow up nurture campaigns after an event or helping out with promoting the campaigns through paid ads and things of that nature. I also do brand awareness campaigns. My latest campaign that I ran in partnership with TechHQ bolstered 2.6M impressions across ads and content. And more than 700K people read about us between the UK, US, Canada, and Singapore.

Did you come to Tyk from a marketing or a tech background?

I came to Tyk from a marketing background. I wouldn’t call myself a techie. Not that I’m not a technical person – I worked for several tech companies prior to this, from YouTube and Google to InVision and Yelp. So I come in a little from both areas, but mostly from a marketing perspective. At the tech companies I worked for, I was always on the marketing or an adjacent business side of the organisation but still performing marketing activities for technical products or services. 

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I’m living in Atlanta, Georgia currently and grew up in the state right below, Florida. Most people globally know it for Disney World – I grew up about two hours from there, in a big city called Jacksonville. Really I was born, raised and educated in Florida – I grew up in Jacksonville and went to college at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee. 

I majored in Public Relations in college and took marketing courses as part of that. I moved to Atlanta after I graduated and started my career in public relations. 

Do you work mainly from home, from somewhere else remote or from Tyk’s Atlanta office?

I work mainly from home. I only really go into the office when teammates and leaders come to Atlanta for a visit; I’m very comfortable working from home. I don’t quite understand the whole working from cafés perspective – the internet isn’t that great, it’s super noisy, I still have to get up and put on clothes and drive… Café working just isn’t really my thing – I’m a fully work from home person! 

Is there a particular pain point in the marketing industry that you would like to fix?

I don’t know if something is necessarily broken. Marketing is just a form of communication. Because communication has evolved (and continues to evolve) with social media and different digital forms of advertising, it’s a forever-evolving industry. Even if we learn the basics of marketing in a traditional way, we still have to adapt it to the way that people are communicating today. 

I can’t really say that anything is broken. I’ve always been on the newer side of marketing – on the cusp of what’s been innovating. Even with the transition from public relations into marketing, my transition was into social media marketing and that’s a lot of what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years or so. Starting when Facebook was in its infancy, I was starting to do marketing then for businesses, so I’ve always been on the newer edge of it. 

I think people and businesses just have to find ways of creating community – for their company, for their brand, for their service – where people are choosing to gather in that moment. 

What do you like about working for Tyk?

I love the fact that it’s remote. I was laid off from my last role during a round of layoffs, so was applying for various jobs, including some that weren’t remote. I had another offer, but I chose the Tyk role as my work-life balance with working remotely far outweighs me having to get up and go into the office every day. 

So I love the fact that Tyk is remote and that people are comfortable working remotely. There’s a level of entrepreneurialism and trusting people to get their job done that I really like. 

I think Tyk is very aware of where they are with every element of the business, so where they are with marketing, where they are with sales and so forth. They don’t have this inflated idea of ‘we’re at the top of the mountain and this is great!’ – it’s a very self-aware company. That means I don’t have to give a reality check. Everybody’s on board with saying openly where we are or helping to find solutions or looking at how we can build on work already undertaken. I love the accurate self-reflection of where the company is throughout each department. 

I’m not a really hierarchical type of person, so I also love that it’s a pretty flat leadership structure. I’m very comfortable talking to everyone from Martin (our CEO) on down and it seems like everyone else at Tyk is too. It’s the same level of respect across the board. Everyone feels comfortable giving their opinion and still operating like a small company, even though we’re growing pretty rapidly. 

Everyone is very complimentary about Tyk. Have you uncovered any flaws?!

I’ve worked remotely for at least half of my career – somewhere around seven or eight years. I wouldn’t say it’s a company flaw per se, as I think Tyk is very self-aware, but with new remote workers I think people need to focus on self-care. Just things like turning off notifications out of hours. Or because we work in a global environment perhaps Tyk could find a way to time Slack communications so that people who don’t turn off their notifications don’t receive messages at 2 am their time. 

Personally, I’m not an over-sharer, so when people are sending messages saying, “I’ve got a headache, I’m going to be off for the rest of the day,” I don’t need to see that at 2 am. They could just set their Slack to ‘out of office.’ It’s not really a fully Tyk thing, it’s more about people who are new to remote working getting into the groove of it!

I think for any “bad” qualities that Tyk may have, the organisation is very aware of what the situation is and are in the process of finding solutions to move forward, so I can’t put my finger on any real problems.  

What are your tips for working in a remote-first organisation, aside from turning your Slack notifications off at night?

I would first advise people to be self-aware in terms of the way that they work. In my first week, my manager did a great job of asking our whole team to provide a document on how each of us works, communicates, what our ticks are, things like that. It meant that our whole immediate team could be aware of those things, which is certainly something that all remote teams could do with implementing. I think being aware of how you work and how to balance that with the way the company works is important. 

I’m very big on self-care. When I shut my computer off, it’s off. Even if I still have Slack on and see the preview of the first few lines of something, unless its super urgent I won’t address it there and then – and I won’t feel guilty about that. I’ve been in positions where I’ve worked myself into hospital, so now when it’s five o’clock or six o’clock or whatever time I choose to shut down my computer, it’s off until the next day. Unless there’s a true, true emergency, I respect my time, my space and my mental health. I think new person coming in to a remote working environment needs to figure out a way to balance these things and to communicate what needs to happen. 

What is a mistake that you made early on in your career and what did you learn from it?

Previously I owned my own PR and social media company. I took what I learned from large enterprises that I’ve worked for and provided services for small businesses to get themselves out there and promote themselves to their clientele. 

Now, if you know anything about public relations you know it’s a very stressful, 24/7 job. You don’t get a second off – everything’s a fire, everything’s an emergency… Whenever a reporter wants to contact you or whenever your client has a bright idea at four o’clock in the morning, you have to be there. 

I worked myself literally into an ER being stressed out from trying to take on too much, thinking everything was a fire. The straw that broke the camel’s back was a typo in an Instagram post! The work was stressful and crazy and ridiculous. 

What I learned was to prioritise self-care. To learn to have a time on when I’m working hard and really focused and to have a time when I’m off. There’s still a balance there. I probably still say “yes” and take on too much; I tend to say “yes” until I hit a wall and then have to scale back! But now I know when the wall is coming and am aware of when I need to stop. 

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my career, not necessarily specific to marketing or PR but just in the way that I work, is knowing when to say “yes” and “no” to work. 

What are the values that drive you personally? What’s important to you?

Respect is important to me and that comes with a variety of things underneath it – communicating openly, honest and directly to me (not through other people) – and me doing the same to other people. 

I’m from the East Coast of the US, so people being direct in what they’re asking of me, instead of doing it in roundabout ways, is really important to me. 

And people – myself included – just doing what they say they’re going to do. Especially working in a remote environment, if I say I’m going to do something, you have to trust me to do it and to do it well, or if I can’t do it to be able to communicate that. And I just want the same from others in return, as we all have to work together to achieve what we need to get done. 

What are your three favourite books and/or podcasts?

I don’t really listen to podcasts, but my top three favourite books include The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston is another. I like to read autobiographies too and there are a few that are pretty good, as well as African American fiction novels. 

And on a completely different note, The Complete Guide to Money by Dave Ramsey was one of the books that changed my life. It really helped me to understand finances and changed the way that I managed money – how, why and exactly what to do in order to manage money. 

Other than reading, what do you do when you’re not working? 

One of my favourite pastimes is cooking. I haven’t recently because I’ve been dieting, but I like to cook one to two new dishes per week. I really enjoy cooking. I became vegan six or seven years ago and I love discovering food and discovering different ways to cook it, particularly what’s good for my body and how to add that to some of the foods I love. 

A weird habit is that I like to manage money and figure out different ways of budgeting and investing and all of that. It’s probably an odd habit but I definitely enjoy that.