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After a 30-year agency career that included notable stints with Edelman and WE Communications, Alan VanderMolen was named chief communications officer at CPG giant SC Johnson last year. Best known for such brands as Windex, Ziploc, Mrs Meyers and Pledge, the low-profile, family-owned company has stepped up its sustainability credentials in recent years, acquiring eco-friendly brands Method and Ecover in 2017, and disclosing the product-specific ingredients of its fragrances.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?Unfortunately, it remains mostly in effective crisis management. I would prefer to see PR be more strongly integrated across business functions to drive consistent and meaningful stakeholder engagement.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
Challenges: Balancing quality of counsel against quality of execution; developing employee engagement/comms programs. Opportunities: Becoming relevant beyond 'what to say' and 'how to say it'. A decades-long opportunity.
What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Further development of deep subject matter expertise and strengthening of use of analytics.
What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
The continued naval gazing and self-congratulating banter.
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness in lockdown?
Vinyl (as in LPs). And riding my Harleys.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I watched the entire Kubrik catalog.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Running an NGO.
Sum up 2021 in one word.
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