In our 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 this week's Q&A, we talk to Matt Buchanan, who has stepped up from Ogilvy's global head of consumer PR to a new role of global and EMEA president of integrated communications. 

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

It’s that time of year where everyone’s shining their crystal ball. Me too, now, it seems. I think the biggest challenge for 2024 across the globe will be economic. Perhaps not full-blown recessions, but certainly slowing and constant conversations about budget, forecasting, and a general sense of caution. But perhaps for us earned specialists, here lies the opportunity. If Covid taught us PR people anything, we’re much stronger and more resilient than we know. We move faster, we’re very used to pivoting (that word!) and nothing is more important than a strong reputation and positive brand awareness that influences the bottom line.

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

I love what I do, and I love it even more when I see a brilliant piece of work with earned creativity at its heart. Take the recent Specsavers ‘Misheard Version’ featuring national treasure Rick Astley: clever, insightful, and culturally relevant, this campaign nailed it all. Bravo Golin.

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

This year Ogilvy had that awkward ‘second album’ challenge for our client, Mayor of London, following our award-winning ‘Have a word’ campaign from 2022. This year we created a campaign to empower men and boys to say ‘Maaate’ to their mates, to challenge misogynistic male behaviour against women and girls nationwide. Creativity, content and collaborations with comedians, social media influencers, and activists were at the heart of this integrated work and the results have been outstanding, driving coverage, commentary and conversations to put the issue well and truly front and centre with the media and the audience. This work makes me so proud of our Ogilvy team and the power of PR.

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

I’ve learnt a lot about myself in 2023 – perhaps that’s what comes with turning 50! But when reflecting, I think it’s more what this year has reinforced for me, rather than new revelations. Anyone who’s been on Teams calls with me will see I have an Anthony Burrill piece in my home office saying “Work Hard and Be Nice to People”.  Simple, true and a great daily reminder.

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

I find it hard to switch off, but my husband Ellis works tirelessly to make sure I do. He’s a food photographer, so having a partner who is in a totally unrelated industry is just what I need. My friends also keep me grounded and tell me I’m boring them talking about my work, so that’s the easiest way to immediately switch off. And wellness – well let’s just say I try! 

What cultural source (eg book/podcast/movie/TV show/music artist) has provided creative inspiration for you lately?

So much creative inspiration every day! From news online to Instagram to recent podcasts on my journey from home in Brighton to the office like ‘Deep Questions’, ‘On Purpose’ and ‘You’re Wrong About’.

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

I’d be a teacher. It’s all I wanted to do when I was younger, my parents were both teachers, and the part of my job I love is working with and educating and developing our new talent. So perhaps that’s me trying to channel the teacher in me.