NEW YORK — Since joining Google last year, Corey DuBrowa has made notable changes across the search giant’s communications function, which he discussed at the Holmes Report’s first-ever Innovator 25 reception in New York last week.

The reception recognized those who have been featured on the Holmes Report’s Innovator 25 list since its inception in 2013. The evening featured a cocktail reception held at the Zeno Group’s 39th floor offices in downtown Manhattan, followed by a fireside chat with DuBrowa, who appeared on the list in 2014 for his work at Starbucks. The event was sponsored by executive search firm Capstone Hill Search and the Zeno Group. (Images from the event can be accessed here.)

In speaking to a group of more than 50 attendees, DuBrowa explained the changes he’s implemented at Google since joining in April 2018 as VP of global communications. For instance, DuBrowa, who reports directly to Google CEO Sundar Pichai, noticed the communications team lacked metrics that were specific to the function. In response, he replicated the process of identifying ‘objectives and key results’ (OKRs) that Pichai uses with his direct reports for the communications team.

“I wanted my leadership team to go through the same process Sundar took his leadership team through to get a two-year view of what the OKRs should be,” DuBrowa said. The process yielded a focus on four core areas: strengthening Google’s reputation among consumers as “helpful”;  building collaboration among the team; enabling autonomy within the function; and measuring the impact of communications. At the communications team’s offsite earlier this year, each of the four OKRs were evaluated.

“For years, Google was data-rich and analysis poor,” DuBrowa said. “We’re in the process of building the kind of analytics engine and team to help us be more precise.” 

Similarly, DuBrowa is reviewing Google’s 170+ PR agencies around the world, with an eye towards streamlining the roster around strategic counsel, execution and measurement. Earlier this year, the Holmes Report reported that Google hired Edelman-owned tech agency Revere to handle consumer, measurement and media strategy work and is reviewing its existing firms. DuBrowa is working with procurement to “be more strategic with who we work with and where we work with them and the scope.”  

There’s no “magic number” of agencies he looks to work with, but he says it will be less than 170. DuBrowa is also stepping away from the "lead agency" model that he implemented at Starbucks and Salesforce
“That process would not work at Google, we have nine products with more than a billion users per month,” he said. “ We operate at a different scale.”

When asked why he has shown a preference for DJE agencies, DuBrowa said “the value an agency partner should bring is: strategic overlay, eyes and ears you don’t have. Having wise external counsel is amazing, invaluable.” He added, “creativity is super underrated, the idea engines that agencies are — I value that from the time the sun rises and sets.” 

DuBrowa also took the audience behind-the-scenes of Google’s pledge to invest $1 billion in land and money to help address the Bay Area’s housing crisis. DuBrowa credited the communications team for getting the initiative “over the finish line.” 

“Communications in any company, plays the unique role of the convener,” DuBrowa said. “We look left to right, we have skin in the game in every function. That gives us the ability to think at the brand Google level…and convene all of the folks needed to make the decision and communicate it in a way that makes sense."

Also at the event, Zeno CEO Barby Siegel introduced DuBrowa to the stage and Capstone Hill president Jamie McLaughlin spoke about innovative hiring trends his firm is noticing. Full images from the event are available here.