Content and Sharks: An Interview with David Pitta

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I sat down recently with David Pitta, CMO of BrightTALK to get his take on the latest trends in content marketing. Besides the business stuff, David shared some of his adventures swimming from Alcatraz to the mainland (Yes, that can be done). That was my favorite part of the discussion.

Check out the video.

Read the transcript from the extended version of the interview. Copy has been modified for readability.

Jeff: I am here with David Pitta of BrightTALK. He is going to be talking about the latest in content marketing today, and we are very excited to hear from him. So David, talk about what is going on. Talk about what you see going on in the industry today.

David: Increasingly, there is an explosion of tech tools and BrightTALK is in that tech space. I think there are a couple of things happening. One is that not only is there an explosion of different tools available to us, which makes decision making incredibly more complex, but also, we are starting to see some of the consolidation trends which I think needs to happen as more of these tools are pulled together and work together in a more seamless way.

I am generally excited to be here just because this is where our customers are, this is where our partners are, this is where we make a lot of connections that help set up the year. I am thinking about data in my head.

Jeff: You were talking about that earlier, the importance of how data drives the engagement. So, how do you see in that with your customers?

David: It seems like today, the pressure is really put on how this data stitches together with the other technologies, and how that data flows through it. Data is core and it’s the value of our company, includes both who people are and also what they are doing. And trying to understand when the right time is to reach out to them.

Myself as a marketer, I am really swimming in data in a lot of ways making sure that we are being good stewards to data as it is coming in, that we are enriching and cleansing it as appropriate. And that we are moving data out of the system when it is inappropriate, when it is bad or when it is non-compliant. And that is an incredible amount of work. So nowadays, I don’t really want to say drowning because it sounds a bit drastic, but as we are swimming in a full pool of data.

Jeff: He doesn’t know it but he has got a question about swimming later.

David: Nowadays and truly nowadays, it is about making sure that these tools and technologies that we have are able to make sure that we are compliant with the data sets that we have. And seeing that BrightTALK is subject to GDPR, and some of the different privacy regulations I mean this is a pressing point.

I just got out of a conversation with somebody, a global manufacturer of hardware goods, trying to pull together their marketing systems in about 12 different languages and 12 different market automation systems, and there was no more pressing point to getting all this pulled together than GDPR. Which is just fascinating to me that this regulation has pulled this global company together to put them into a better spot to innovate in the market and grow their business. So, in some ways, there are some great things happening.

Jeff: Yeah it is almost like GDPR needs to be called something else, they need to rebrand that as it has benefits beyond compliance.

What is going on with you? You have been at BrightTALK for how long now?

David: In total, it is about eight years.

Jeff: That is a long time, talk about your career and how that has evolved over the last eight years while you have been here.

David: Actually, it has been nearly 10 years now that I think about it. But, I was fortunate because I had the opportunity to build a company similar to BrightTALK. I then started talking to BrightTALK. And they had the front-end technology, and back end delivery tool, the webinar and videos, it is an incredible amount of work to build a two-sided marketplace.

It is also an incredible amount of work to get business professionals to fill out forms, to attend a webinar that may be weeks away, to sit for 30 to 40 minutes to listen to thought leadership, but thankfully through grinding it night and day a very thoughtful business went to up to seven million professionals that are engaging on the platform.

Jeff: Seven million?

David: We do, yeah. And drawing well over a million a year. Over 1,200 clients with over 75,000 talks on BrightTALK which is just very impressive. And now our summits, we are running over 200 of those per year. We have got 30,000 people a month, that are engaging with those summits.

Jeff: Those are virtual or in person?

David: All virtual events. What we call a community summit is a three-day event. Today, we are streaming five round tables to a global audience.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean we are here with all these crazy cameras. So, videos are becoming a big part of the delivery of BrightTALK?

David: Yes. 5,000 people come and engage with that content online throughout the week. So, it is a mash up really of physical, virtual and online. We think we have a plan to blend that into more of a hybrid experience. Because we love to be in person, we love the idea of live streaming video, and we love to connect with our customers and our partners.

Jeff: I never knew it. I didn’t realize that you had this as a service. It was great seeing everyone talking earlier and doing those round tables.

David: Yeah, some great folks.

Jeff: I am going to switch to the really hard question. You have a choice, you have to swim a mile through shark infested waters or bungee jump off of the Golden Gate Bridge. What are you going to do?

David: Oh, wow that is such a great question. Because I have a fascination with the Golden Gate Bridge and I almost want to say that is the answer. I have also swum from Alcatraz.

Jeff: You can do that?

David: I can.

Jeff: We have been talking about this, do you swim from Alcatraz to land?

David: Absolutely.

Jeff: I could do that. No, I can’t but he can.

David: The key is like you are trying to make Marina Green, which is kind of between the Golden Gate Bridge and what is called Pier 39. Because of the way that the tide rolls out, you have to shoot for the Transamerica building and then you end up being pushed all the way down. So, there is a real technique to try and make this little aquatic park entrance. But there is something uniquely fascinating about swimming, because you get your head under water, kind of drowns out everything, but I am definitely afraid of a shark.

Jeff: You know who could have really appreciate that advice? The guys that escaped from Alcatraz.

David: That would be good advice. That is a fascinating story actually. When you stand at Alcatraz, you look over and say gosh, that is frightening. And then to do it. I did it with a wet suit.

Jeff: Thank you for spending the time to talk to everybody. David has got kind of a lot of good stuff going on with technology, and he can swim a storm. Thanks for watching.

 

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