In our new Headliners series of conversations, we get under the skin of PR and communications leaders around the world who have made PRovoke Media headlines recently, uncovering what they see as the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry, where they find inspiration (and how they switch off), what they’ve learned about themselves, as well as the creative campaigns they love and the work they are most proud of.

In the third Q&A in the series, we chat to Gavin Megaw, who was this week elevated to president and managing director of Hanover Group.

What are the greatest challenges and opportunities for the PR and communications industry over the next 12 months?

The elephant in the room is constant uncertainty. At Hanover, we have been studying C-suite resilience for two years and 97% of global leaders say they’d experienced recent disruption to their business, with 98% flagging a direct financial or commercial impact. Less than half spend most of their time pursuing strategic priorities. And that’s the challenge and opportunity for both our industry and clients; how do we become more resilient through effective management of the day-to-day headwinds without losing focus on big picture strategic priorities?

What’s the best PR campaign you’ve seen recently and why?

Women’s Aid subverted ‘football’s coming home’ to create a campaign highlighting domestic violence for last year’s World Cup. The chilling creative and unforgettable use of ‘he’s coming home’ were brilliantly simple. Everyone who saw it will have taken a moment to think about it; that’s a stellar campaign outcome.

What work from your team are you most proud of over the past year?

I overheard our Budweiser team excitedly discussing an idea they’d come up with that they wanted to pitch to the client. They were frustrated by their lived experience of a far from inclusive night-time economy. They wanted to help others plan a safer journey home. So, they facilitated a partnership with personal safety app WalkSafe+, commissioned consumer research to understand the scale of the issue of women’s safety and launched a hugely successful earned, digital and out of home advertising – including on the London Underground – campaign targeted at consumers and retailers. I was so proud to see an idea driven by their own experiences become reality and, in the process, raise awareness and change behaviours. This is why we all love to do what we do, isn’t it?

What have you learned about yourself over the past couple of years?

That I need to look deeper at things in an increasingly complex and challenging world, and to purposely drive beyond what appears ‘rational’ when problem solving. People need to feel safe to operate effectively and be happy. If they are behaving oddly or believe something that appears ‘irrational’, it is most likely driven by some form anxiety. As leaders we can’t simply dismiss their perspective, we need to understand what is driving it and seek to fix the root cause.

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

Being outside in nature makes me happy. I spend a lot of time trail running and walking. It’s become increasingly important to me that we all should work to live, not live to work. I am adamant that having other passions and interests makes us better and more creative at what we do.

What cultural source has provided creative inspiration for you lately?

I read and listen to a ridiculous amount. I enjoy it, but also think it is fundamentally important given what we all do. My non-negotiable ‘must read’ title is the FT Weekend magazine. Every week, without fail, I take something away from superb writers such as Tim Harford, Gillian Tett, Simon Kuper and Robert Shrimsley. They make me question my thinking and inspire me to look deeper into things.

If I wasn’t working in PR/comms I would be…