Stephen Waddington | The Innovator 25 2016
15The Innovator 25:

Stephen Waddington

Chief engagement officer



Experiment, start small and stealthily. People will  adopt good ideas, and they'll become the norm"


A high-profile advocate of new media and new techology, Stephen Waddington has long exhorted his PR peers to get to grips with the disruption underway in their industry, warning that many firms face irrelevance if they do not embrace new models and methods. That is an ethos that has helped 'Wadds' rise to chief engagement officer at Ketchum, where has responsibility for reshaping the firm's approach to innovation. A former founder of Speed Communications, Wadds is not just a highly-visible presence in your social media feed. He also plays a genuine leadership role in the industry, publishing numerous books and serving in senior industry association roles, all of which revolve around his singular focus on the future of communications.  

How do you define innovation?

Creating value for clients from new media and technology.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?

Vangardist Magazine used blood from HIV-positive people for a special edition of the magazine to raise the profile of HIV. It was unusual, unexpected with a very clear message. Campaign video here.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?

Facebook is relentless in developing new products and services in response to users and brands

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’

2007 or thereabouts when the public relations agency business shifted from traditional forms of media to branded and social media.

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?

Influencer relations.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?

About the same as other marketing disciplines.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?

Management techniques.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?


Who is your mentor and why?

My network on Twitter.

How do you find inspiration?

Reading and running in both the city and countryside.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?

Experiment, start small and stealthily. People will respond to genuinely and readily adopt good ideas, and they'll become the norm.

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?

China and India. The scale, political structures and raw energy are enabling both countries to leapfrog generations of technology.

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Early morning.