#CommsCorner with Xero’s Penny Elmslie


This week we chat with @Penny_Elmslie, Head of Marketing for the cool accounting software Xero. Penny is a communications professional driven by words in a numbers-focused organisation. We truly love the Xero software which makes day to day accounting a cinch.

Tell us about your typical day?


What was your first job in communications?

My undergraduate degree was a Bachelor of Communications from Macquarie University. After a stint in media sales, I went back to uni to do a Post Graduate in Marketing at Monash and never looked back.

Do you have a communications mentor?

I’m lucky. I have always followed Andy Lark’s career and now I work directly with him at Xero in his role as CMO. It is like a fast tracked MBA on the job.

What tools can’t you live without?

Google for work – great collaboration and easy, quick way to communicate with my peers across different countries and time-zones. We are about to roll out Simple HQ to manage our marketing projects, workflows and approvals which I’m really excited about.

What’s the biggest challenge in your role?

The pace at Xero is insane so prioritising work across the team and making sure we are focused on the projects that will deliver our numbers is always top of mind.

What’s the best campaign you have worked on while at Xero?

At Xero, the best campaign to date was the 2015 Evolve Partner Campaign because it was the first time we delivered an integrated campaign across multiple teams.  This included a massive 20 city roadshow, campaign incentives, content, PR and social which was all backed up by data. This is now standard practice in the way we work but it was a milestone at the time and one I’m really proud of.

If you had to pick one campaign, which do you most admire?

I loved the Virgin Mobile ad featuring Brad Pitt’s brother, Doug Pitt. campaign. It was funny, genuine and really caught the nation’s attention and appealed to the Aussie “Fairs Fair” spirit. Amazing ROI.

What’s been the biggest change to communications since you began your career?

Obviously the shift from offline to online has been massive but it has also made the marketer’s role more interesting and effective. I also love how brands have taken on the challenge to provide quality relevant content and in a sense become publisher’s. As a consumer I rely and expect online content to help me make my buying decisions so as a marketer we need to deliver this.

If you had to cut something from you budget, what would it be?

Corporate entertainment, not relevant in the modern business world.

What quality do you look for in team members?

Once we have ticked the skill requirements for the role,  I look for cultural fit within Xero and the existing team.

What’s your favourite brand?

Even before I started at Xero, I always admired the brand and the ethos of the company. I also follow Salesforce, Atlassian, Zendesk and Hubspot.

What book, blog should we all be reading?

As much as you can get your hands on, variety is the key and having an open mind is the way to go.

What tips do you wish you had known starting out in comms?

Marketing is logical and common sense, so treat your customers how you would like to be treated is my best advice. From an internal team point of view,  don’t always rely on email to communicate across offices, teams, countries. I always tell my team to talk to people face to face or via Google Hangout to get things done. It’s more effective, more human and in the end saves time, frustration and relationships.

Communications is common sense, don’t overthink it.

One response »

  1. Pingback: Cinema, customers and creativity – catch up on #CommsCorner from 2015 | cellophane

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