LWW | The Innovator 25
LWWThe Innovator 25:

Lauren Wesley Wilson

President, ColorComm, Inc.
Washington, DC

Influence/Public Relations/Communications
For taking action to help more women of color hold senior positions in communications and spearheading a conference that is more of an intimate gathering of 300, multicultural, professional women. 

Where does the PR industry need to innovate the most?
Influencer relations & Publicity. Our industry has a great opportunity to utilize the substantial relationships that are in front of us. The relationships that we have access to (influencers) are changing the way we communicate, purchase products, and conduct business.

Influencer Marketing can start a movement, change a movement, and become a movement if we allow it. These are all great things if influencers are utilized correctly.

How innovative do you think the PR industry currently is?
More innovative than other marketing disciplines. The PR industry is more innovative than people care to pay attention to. We are on the forefront  of starting trends and major campaigns, and most importantly, getting everyday people to act. The industry is more than pushing paper around, attending parties and events. We are an industry that influences perception and affects change.

"The need for ColorComm was born when it was clear that women of color in communications needed a strong network to thrive in their careers"

What is most important for the PR industry to do to foster more innovation?
Disrupt the agency business model. Disruption is key! Go outside the box and do it differently. In fact, create your own box and set the rules. The industry survives on new ideas and new thinking. The only way to create new is to disrupt what's been done.

The most innovative PR/communications campaign in the last 12 months?
Prudential is one of the most recognized and respected companies in the U.S. and throughout the world, helping institutions and individuals grow and protect their wealth.  However, over the last year, the company has done a phenomenal job emerging as a leader in the women empowerment space through its campaign #womeninspired.

The campaign shares the stories of 'what inspires you' and helps you define your own path towards focus and self improvement. The company doesn't just walk the walk by they implement action by serving as the presenting sponsor of the Know Your Value Tour, ColorComm's 2015 Conference featuring women's activist Gloria Steinem, Harlem Fashion Row, and many more. They have reached so many women with their message and continue to influence the next generation of women leaders.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be 'innovative.'
A moment in my career when I was innovative, was in 2011 when I started ColorComm. At the time, I was working at a corporate PR agency and I was frustrated by the lack of people of color at the VP level or above.  I wondered how I was going to remain in this industry when I didn't see people at the top that looked like me.

In 2011, I started ColorComm as a quarterly luncheon series to bring together women of all levels in communications with the goal of creating mutually beneficial relationships and friendships. From there the interest grew and it transitioned into a membership organization. Today, we are in 5 cities and host an annual conference at the Ritz Carlton, Key Biscayne. We focus on advancing the visibility of women of color in communications. 

How do you inspire innovation within yourself or to your team? 
Read, read, and read some more. It's important to stay on top of the latest trends, read our industry trades and mainstream magazines. What does your audience want? What doesn't your audience have? What does your audience need? These are important questions to ask yourself when attempting to be innovative and to erect change.

What’s the most innovative place in the world?
In my opinion, Paris is a pretty innovative place. I took a detour to Paris after attending the Cannes Lions Festival this summer. Paris is truly ahead of the curve in so many industries. It's amazing to see how the city functions and to listen to the elevated conversations of the people in our industry. Parisians are deep thinkers and are often creating masterpieces and campaigns that we later attempt to emulate.

What's your favorite time of day?
I love the morning when it's quiet. My favorite time of the day is when I get home from the gym (shortly after 7 am) and in between the time I get home and before I get ready, that time is the most important. It allows me to think before the day gets crazy and it reminds me that no matter what happens in my day, I am human.