AD 2 Dallas & AAF Social Spotlight: Crystal Gonzales


Crystal Gonzales grew up in Milton, Wisconsin, a small town with only two stop lights. She moved to Dallas seven years ago after graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and is currently working as a National Sales Executive at Pandora, one of America’s leading online streaming audio companies.  Learn more about Crystal Gonzales and her career.

What was your first job after graduating and what from that time impacted you the most?

 My first job after graduation was working as a Digital Sales Coordinator at The Wall Street Journal. I supported the advertising sales team by creating media plans and monitoring campaign delivery. The biggest impact from my time at WSJ was the people I worked with. I branched out of my day-to-day job to hear about my colleagues’ roles, clients they worked with and learned what made them successful.

Can you explain the role of the advertising sales team at Pandora?

 As a National Sales Executive at Pandora, my role is consultative. I’m a resource for my clients; I share new products, targeting capabilities and make recommendations based on their campaign goals. I also work with large national restaurant accounts and manage a $10 million book of business. I report directly to the Vice President of the QSR vertical.

Can you explain the Pandora advertising process in a nutshell? Do you work directly with brands or do you partner with media companies?

 Pandora is structured to support both the brand and agency, so I work on one side of the business and my split partner works on the other. We feel it is important to educate brands and agencies from a holistic perspective. As mentioned, I work with large national restaurant accounts and of my $10 million book of business, I only work with two agencies and seven brands directly. We also have a Client Services team who supports the sales team by building media plans during the RFP stage, executing media buys and monitoring campaign delivery and performance.

 What are the benefits to advertising on a service like Pandora versus traditional advertising media?   

 By reaching 120+ million monthly unique listeners, Pandora gives marketers the power to deliver the right message at the exact moment needed to the precise listener they’re trying to reach. These advantages, combined with a much lighter ad load and a guaranteed delivery of ads, makes streaming the perfect bullseye for brands’ audio target. By being a digital platform, we have the ability to capture our listener’s registration data (age, gender, zip code) and their music interests and habits (i.e. time of day, device, genre).

 Being in a sales position, how do you work with clients to encourage them to continue partnering with Pandora?

 I have developed a strong relationship with my clients by taking the time to understand their business. Since my list of accounts are only in the restaurant vertical, I dig in to the category like my clients would – what are the customer trends, what’s important to the customer, what can increase sales, etc. I think about what keeps them up at night, how can Pandora help move their business and what new ideas could I share with them. My goal is to be a consultative resource, not a pesky salesperson. Each time I reach out to my clients or have a meeting, I prepare as much as possible to make it a meaningful touchpoint.

 What is the biggest challenge of your job and how do you navigate that challenge? 

 With sales, there are always last-minute changes such as advertisers changing their campaign spending or strategic direction. The best way to navigate this challenge is to always control what you can control, such as proactively educating clients and making time for the extra outreach. Plant the seed of information and ideas as you go because it will pay off in the future. 


In your opinion, what makes Pandora a great company to work for? 

Audio is hot right now! There are so many ways to consume audio – mobile devices, connected home, smart devices, connected car. It is fun to work for a company with an offering that gives marketers a reason to consider a streaming audio strategy. Pandora is the pioneer in the streaming audio space with a strong footprint in the music and advertising industries. Earlier in 2019, SiriusXM purchased Pandora. There are many compliments in each company’s business models with very little overlap. Pandora mainly drives revenue through the advertising sales and SiriusXM drives revenue by paid subscriptions. This opens a whole new avenue of content for Pandora!

 How would you explain the work culture at Pandora?

 As the world’s largest audio platform, Pandora has a culture with a lot of pride. Pandora was founded based on the love of music and supporting new artists and content creators. The people at Pandora or “Pandas” as we like to say, are collaborative and work hard while having fun.

 What is your perception of continued education in your career, and what avenues have your gone through to continue your growth in the industry?

 I think continuing your education in any career is a good idea. One way I continued my education and gained professional development was by joining professional organizations like AAF Dallas, DFWIMA and AMA. Volunteering with AAF Dallas taught me management skills that I can now use for future employment opportunities. In addition to joining professional organizations, I try to stay up to date on the industry by reading articles on the latest technologies, trends and mediums. I also like to utilize LinkedIn Learning.

 What is your perception of mentorship and how has mentorship helped you in your career?

 Mentorships are immensely helpful when trying to find your way in the advertising field. My biggest tip is to not force a mentorship but rather try to find someone you naturally click with and trust. Your mentor should be someone you can learn and get advice from. My mentor is the reason why I live in Texas. I was really lucky to have an experienced advertising professional guide me from my time in college to now. They introduced me to people I may have never connected with and encouraged me to conduct informational interviews. One of my interviews included The Wall Street Journal, during which they saw something in me and encouraged me to apply for their advertising sales track program.

 What advice do you have for anyone interested in advertising sales?

 Advertising sales isn’t always a first choice for someone interested in the field, it wasn’t mine! I recommend exploring a Sales Coordinator or Sales Planner role to see if it’s a path for you. There are a number of traits that can make a good salesperson but there are some that cannot be trained. If you want to be in advertising sales; be coachable, show motivation and drive, be self-aware and network! When I made a new connection, I would take them out for coffee to pick their brain about their career, what made them successful and what challenges they faced. The advertising community is smaller than you think! Never burn a bridge because everyone has a connection and knows someone even outside of Dallas. I was taught this early in my career (thankfully, not the hard way).

 What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?

The best piece of career advice I’ve received is to raise your hand and show your intent. It is important to show your curiosity about how you would like to advance your career. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand to help out with a new project or client. Your career aspirations are not always assumed so be vocal about what your desired path is. If you share your thoughts with your manager early on, they can help you reach your goal or think of you when the opportunity arises.