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Describe what you do.
I integrate W2O’s fact-based communications. I pull from myriad sources of data, everything from propriety social analysis tools to demographics to focus groups, to come up with “human truths” that explain why our target audiences behave the way that they do. But the insight isn’t enough, and I’m also responsible for helping to translate these truths into action, creating human interactions that help clients meet business goals.
Where are you from/hometown?
Melbourne , Australia
Where are you based now?
New York City
In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Planning and measurement because PR professionals have long relied on insights and strategies being handed to them by other agencies in other specialties, such as advertising or marketing. Those efforts were often designed with other needs in mind and had little resonance with the challenges faced by communicators.
Now, we are seeing clients ask communications agencies to lead the insights creation and strategic plans that will seamless flow into traditional execution. And while the fundamentals of execution have remained stable—storytelling is storytelling regardless of the medium, influencer relations is influencer relations whether that influencer is a grizzled reporter or an Instagram king—the need for bespoke communications planning is an emerging field. This naturally pulls through planning and measurement: as greater share of marketing budgets is being shifted towards communications, clients are asking for greater accountability (beyond basic reporting on impressions) and this is driving more agencies to invest in measurement. This change will make communications a stronger strategic partner to the CCO and CMO.
How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation?
About the same as other marketing disciplines — communication has not traditionally been forced to innovate, particularly strategically, because the discipline has been viewed tactically. But the digital revolution means that more tools can be used at different scales, making strategic innovation critical in maintaining the position of communications/PR among other marketing approaches. We must walk a middle road: innovation without a strategic purpose is meaningless, though emerging bells and whistles often prompts companies to “innovate” without emphasizing results. At the same time, holding companies can hamper communications agencies by setting up guard rails that emphasize silos.
What is most important for the PR industry to do to foster more innovation?
Disrupt the agency business model
How do you define innovation?
Innovation is doing something different for a reason that leads to positive impact or incremental value for someone (your client, your customer/audience, your company or society in general). I always tell people “just because you can does not mean you should”.
Most innovative PR/comms campaign you've seen in the last 12 months?
I love campaigns that demonstrate an innovative human truth that breaks down a stereotype: no audience is uniform, and the truly innovative companies can turn that reality to their advantage. The ones that come to mind in the past 12 months are Similac’s Sisterhood of Motherhood and Pantente’s Strong is Beautiful
What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
I am, of course, a deep believer in what we are doing at W2O Group with our clients. The reality is that much of W2O Group’s innovation is—as it should be—invisible to the outside world. We are judged on our results, and the methods used to get there are opaque to others. That’s the reality elsewhere, too, so it is unfair—not to mention difficult—to assess innovation at companies or brands where I have little visibility. The challenges facing the PR industry are no different to other companies in different industries – companies need their purpose, their motivation, what they believe sets them apart from other competitors. Understanding this will provide a clear lens for purpose based innovation that will help drive growth for the company rather than innovating for innovating sake. W2O was founded on the fact we are a data-driven agency that engages influencers to advocate for a brand based on a unique understanding of the audience. This has not changed in the past 10 years. As technology and the market has changed we have adapted and have been able to execute on this promise to clients in a more effective, efficient and—yes—innovative way.
Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
My career highlight is the insights and research work I did for the #likeagirl campaign. But it is dangerous to only focus on “big” innovations. I feel innovation occurs every time I share an insight or a strategy with a client and the client says “that is not something I thought of.”
Something — not PR/marketing related — that is innovative.
The evolution of the camera has been a fascinating innovation. We have moved from a world in which the time and resources to capture an image were nearly prohibitive, making the proper pose critical in a world where film was valuable to a world where nearly everyone can, at any time, capture, record and share all the moments that matter to us
Please give our readers an idea of something that can inspire innovation — this can be a book/movie/podcast/activity/article.
Start with Why by Simon Sinek. This is a great book about understanding purpose. Another great way to find inspiration is to walk a mile in the shoes of your audience. Go to the place they would hang out or shop and immerse yourself in their life.
Least favorite time of day?
The end of the day. I love the morning and always wake up early even when I am on vacation. By the end of the day I feel empty and drained.
Most innovative place in the world? This could be a city, a venue, a neighborhood, etc.
Walking the beach in Fire Island at 6am in the morning or anywhere there is water or you are seeing the sun rise – the hope and opportunity that represents is amazing.
• Selling Fruit in my dad’s fruit shop
• Working in the family corner store
• Stocking shelves at supermarket
• Waiter/Barman in a Latin American Restaurant
• Market Research Associate for a small market research company in Melbourne
• Market Research Manager at Fairfax Holdings
• Strategists for an ad agency in Sydney
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