Our #TCT this week is our PR Panda Jackie Gilbert. Jackie joined our team in June as the director of communications and in no time has embodied the Parking Panda spirit. Jackie’s passion for PR makes her an invaluable member of our marketing team! Learn more about Jackie, and fall in love with her just as we have.
How long have you been with Parking Panda?
I came on board as Director of Communications in June, so a little over a month. I’m the newest Panda on the team, but felt welcome the moment I came through the doors.
How did you learn about Parking Panda?
It wasn’t so much a “learn about” as it was seeing the cute Panda logo on a scanning device. Coincidentally (if you believe in that sorta thing) about a month before my interview, I was running late for dinner at Nacho Mamas in Canton. After cruising around trying to find street parking, I parked in a garage a few blocks away. When I left, I saw the orange scanning device with the Panda logo, and wondered what it was. Used the Google, and saw that I could’ve saved money parking in that same garage had I used Parking Panda.
What’s your favorite part about working with Parking Panda?
Two things: 1. Being called a Panda. 2. Our customer service and the team that’s taking your questions when you chat or call us. I’d challenge anyone to find a company that has a (Panda) Promise that will pay you back 110 percent if you aren’t satisfied with their service and touts it proudly. In the case of refunds or issues with a service, most companies do a balancing act of saving money and trusting the word of the customer. For us, a satisfied customer is what drives everyone on the team.
So you’re a roller derby player, tell us more about that.
I have been playing derby for a little over four years now. Actually celebrated my derbaversary in July by skating in Ireland with a team in Limerick and Cork. My home league is Free State Roller Derby, based out of Montgomery County (a DC metro area), and I’m also the co-captain for Team Maryland (a charter of all-star skaters within the state). Flat-track roller derby is a full-contact team sport on skates. There is hitting. There are bruises, and more often than not there are nasty falls. And sometimes, if you're lucky, there is a full two-minute jam that can be the one of the most exhilarating moments of your life.
Roller derby has really taken off since the early 2000s, as a reemergence came from my home state of Texas. The Drew Berrymore/Ellen Page movie “Whip It” also provided some great exposure to derby, but I think it’s the grassroots-cultural movement that has really made it one of the fastest growing sports in the world (currently an interoffice argument, by the way).
How does derby influence your work ethic?
I’ve been an athlete all my life, having played collegiate volleyball. Yes there is strategy in volleyball, a number of players needed on the court. Same is true for roller derby. But in my experience, the diversity is greater in derby and the high-intensity of switching from defense to offense, and back again, forces you to rely on a wider swath of talent, strengths in skaters, and how all that comes together in a two-minute jam is just magical. I think roller derby has taught me one very important lesson, and without sounding cliche: The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Parking Panda has this same mentality. We are each our own individuals, but our vision to disrupt an industry together is what drives us. So in that way we are all moving in our own direction but we’re doing it for the greater good of the company. As a skater, this is what drives every decision on the track--the same is true for my work at Parking Panda, only without the trading of bumps and bruises.
PR can be tough, how do you tackle your day-to-day tasks?
Lots of calendar tetris and planning (aka spreadsheeting your campaigns). And monitoring what’s in the news and what our customers are saying. I’ve scheduled a news download every morning to see what’s being said about parking and how we can insert ourselves into the conversation. Just the other day, the head of Paypal’s social and digital tweeted about his wife’s parking experience and how he wished Ticketmaster would allow him to book parking as well. One of our company values is to always move the needle. The most important part of my job is keeping the pulse of what’s being said and interacting with those who having a stressful parking experience. We all need to park but it shouldn’t be that hard, or expensive.
Do you have have any tips or tools for people starting out in PR?
I love Asana. It’s a great organizational platform to manage your tasks and also work in a collaborative work environment. Sure there are monitoring and brand management tools, but you still need to plan and also work with your team. Using some sort of planning mechanism/tool like Asana can help keep you on task and moving forward on all projects versus staying siloed. As far as a tip: Don’t go into a situation assuming you have all the answers. Ask for feedback from your teammates. Remember you’re living and breathing that task day-in and day-out, they might see something that you might not. You know: Fresh eyes, and what not.
Where do you see Parking Panda in 5 years?
I see us having mandatory nap time, a cafeteria that has ice cream and cakes all day, and perhaps a meeting room with a shuffle board in it. JK (or am I?)
The coolest thing about the parking industry is that it is ripe for change, and those working in the industry are willing to accept the technologies and solutions available to advance the industry. Change is usually hard to adopt for any industry, and I commend this space for working with Parking Panda and other solutions to improve the customer experience. In five years, I see us continuing to do that, but also see operators adopting our sophisticated dashboard and hardware to primarily manage their operation with the ultimate goal of creating a frictionless customer experience.
Give three random facts about yourself?
I can pretty much quote Jurassic Park from beginning to end, and thoroughly enjoy inserting some obscure line in everyday conversation.
I once bowled a 216, and have a bowling pin trophy on my desk that says 50 pins over average. And yes, I was on a bowling league (my derby name IS Jackie Treehorn).
My brother used to beat me at Madden on Sega, and then let me win so I would continue playing.
What accomplishment are you most proud of at Parking Panda?
Recently had a story revised to not only include Parking Panda, but also a correction on one of our competitors having more inventory than us.
If you could customize the Parking Panda tagline, what would it be?
Happy parkers choose Parking Panda.
Why do you think the work Parking Panda does is important?
Parking your car has never been the final stop when traveling from point A to point B. It’s a stopover on your way to work, a safe place for your car while you travel cross country, or a hassle-free spot so you can enjoy time with the family at the ballpark. Whether it’s on the street, in a company lot, or a private garage, cars spend 96 percent of their time parked. Getting your family (or your team) into the car can be like herding cats. Planning a trip is stressful. Parking shouldn’t be. We package up a customer’s experience with an all-in-one solution to make parking easier, more affordable, and stress-free.
Parking Panda is free and available on the go with our iOS, Android, and Windows apps.