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 speak to Mission North co-CEO Tyler Perry, who is behind the  expansion of Foster the Future, an industrywide DEI initiative.

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

2023 was all about how PR and comms teams adapt to generative AI. These tools can bring significant benefits, but they will not automatically produce provocative commentary or  bold new arguments — that’s better left to human intelligence. AI has since emerged as the dominant force powering the public and private markets — Microsoft's most recent earnings call mentioned AI 40 times. Coca-Cola has an AI platform — yet our recent study found that 47% of Americans don't believe AI will create a better future. Communicators will play a major role in 2024 helping their companies and clients navigate this and close this perception gap.

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

The pharmaceutical industry has certainly taken some hits over the past few years, and that has impacted global sentiment on the space. Nailing a corporate campaign in a complex space can be tricky, but Eli Lilly’s “Get Better” TV, content and social campaign humanizes the healthcare pain points felt by millions, and brings to life the company's goal to make drugs that 'give people a chance at health. On a lighter note, Michael Cera and his partnership with CeraVe is brilliant -- an unexpected face in a world dominated by of celebrity skin care lines. It is integrated, smart, and builds over time.

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

An increasingly large remit for us has been around AI storytelling. Our work with Canva to tell a more accessible, human-centric, and trustworthy story about the role of AI in empowering the majority of knowledge workers without design skills to communicate visually has been energizing -- an integrated program of custom research, product launch campaigns, thought leadership, keynotes, cover stories, and industry awards. And it appears to be working - Canva continues to see rapid workplace growth and adoption and is now being used by more than 90% of the Fortune 500.

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

I’ve been on a real journey of self-discovery through therapy, meditation, the study of Buddhism, and my participation in YPO. I’ve learned that I am enough, that I can find and create joy everywhere, that wise words and actions are so powerful, and that everyone battles imposter syndrome and self-doubt. We are all doing the best we can, and that is enough.

How do you switch off and maintain wellness?

Recharging is essential to maintain energy and enthusiasm in this job. Daily meditation and exercise are a big part of my life, as is quality time with my family. And I LOVE TO DANCE. More dancing is a 2024 goal of mine, and I am already delivering —I went to an all-women dance party on Saturday night!

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

I voraciously consumed The Covenant of Water and reconnected to the power of storytelling and strong characters. Verghese’s words are so beautiful, and he paints his captivating characters in a way that makes you so invested in their outcomes. What we do is so impactful -- great stories can change everything -- and reading literature like this reaffirms that for me. If you haven’t read it yet, I would strongly suggest listening to it, as Verghese reads it, and it is MAGIC.

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

If I wasn’t working in PR/comms I would be…On a public speaking circuit, running workshops on finding more joy, play, and purpose in our lives. I would start with working women, as we often manage so many things outside of our day jobs that it can be hard to make time for joy and play. I believe this must change, one dance party at a time.