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In 2018, award-winning communicator and trendspotter Marian Salzman left agency life – including a decade as CEO of Havas PR North America – moved to Switzerland and embarked on her greatest challenge to date: heading global communications at Philip Morris International (PMI) as it embarked on its journey to a smoke-free future. Charged with developing a multilayered communications program to accelerate PMI's vision, Salzman is forging alliances with NGOs, advocacy groups and regulators and other parties to accelerate an end to cigarettes.
She’s also made bold strategic moves to transform the function itself and how it sits within the company. Her goal is to reintroduce PMI into, as she puts it, “civilized society” and engage that society in meaningful conversations about the future of tobacco. Reporting directly to global CEO André Calantzopoulos, she directly oversees almost 100 communications professionals on three continents, who are responsible for media relations, scientific engagement, content development, crisis management, internal communications, sponsorships and more.
At Havas, Salzman chaired its global PR Collective, where she reshaped creative output. She also served on the Havas Worldwide general managers group and as co-chairman of the company's first international steering committee for its social media assets. She was previously chief marketing officer at Porter Novelli and JWT Worldwide and the chief strategic officer at Euro RSCG Worldwide (Havas Creative). Her most famous consumer campaign was the launch of “metrosexual” to create a marketplace for SABMiller’s Peroni, which became the word of the year in 2003. Salzman is the author of 17 books, including Buzz, the first business book on buzz marketing, and her latest The New Megatrends: Seeing Clearly In The Age of Disruption.
Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
During recent M&A activity, delivering a regular cadence of transparent and honest messages about our company and its plans reshaped perceptions of the general public.
What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities in the year ahead?
There is gross emotional and media overload. Who knows what to listen to or trust?
What have you most admired about this industry over the past year?
Rallying around displaced communicators in Ukraine.
What has most disappointed you about this industry over the past year?
Innovation seems to have dwindled; if you don't count cannabis communications, what's new?
How have you switched off from work and maintained wellness over the past year?Wrote a book, took some graduate courses online, and steeped me in new fiction.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through the past year or provided inspiration?
I watched every episode of ‘Billions’ and saw what I dislike most about capitalism turbocharged, and escape into 90 Day Fiancé for ice cream for the brain.
If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
Working as a receptionist in an ER helping check people in who need immediate medical help; I feel powerless to make a difference so smoothing access, one patient at a time, would feel good.
Sum up 2022 in one word.
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