Greg Mondshein | The Innovator 25 North America 2019

Greg Mondshein

Co-Founder & Managing Partner

SourceCode Communications
New York

“We’re amazing storytellers, we now just need to get better at telling and activating our stories in all the channels our targets customers live in.”

In 2017, Greg Mondshein struck out with fellow Hotwire alum Becky Honeyman and launched SoureCode Communications. It’s impressive that an agency less than three years old has taken home multiple SABRE Awards, plus was recognized as the Holmes Report’s New Agency of the Year. One of SourceCode’s standout campaigns “Milking My Ladies” introduced the Elvie breast pump at Fashion Week. (The work went on to take home the Consumer Electronics SABRE Award and the Best in Live Events Innovation SABRE Award this year.) 

SourceCode was founded on the premise of bringing humanity back to the account service business while reaching the ultimate goal of delivering products that have measurable impact on clients’ businesses. The firm grew last year into a $1.7m business that operated at 42% profitability, while offering unlimited vacation, full benefits and flexible working arrangements. 

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
1. Understand that marketing starts with a great story and a great story must start with an in-depth understanding of the market. Everything else is how you tell it. We’re amazing storytellers, we now just need to get better at telling and activating our stories in all the channels our targets customers live in. 
2. A greater investment in data and the subsequent understanding of how to leverage the data to build better campaigns. Considering less than ⅓ of PR pros are leveraging measurement and analytics software, it painfully obvious we’re behind the eight ball on this one.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
Lagging the others

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Creative ideas

How do you define innovation?
Innovation starts and ends with curiosity. Without curiosity one tends to go with the status quo. Those that are daring enough to ask ‘why’ tend to be the ones that change the game.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
A shameless plug and show of real #clientlove, but I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done with Elvie’s and our Milking My Ladies campaign. As the leading femtech hardware brand, Elvie wanted to normalize and destigmatize breastfeeding. Together with their team, we developed a campaign on a modest budget that made waves both in the US and the UK, won awards and kept their flagship new product on backorder for more than three months.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
BurgerKing has had some really gutsy and creative campaigns in the last year. Everyone talks about integrating technology into their creative campaigns, but Burger King actually went there when they used location data to offer $0.01 Whoppers to people at McDonalds. And they showed they had a serious side too, when they brought out the Blue Meals - “no one is happy all the time.” The fact they managed to troll their top competitor with both campaigns just made me love them more.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Becoming an entrepreneur. Leaving a job you love with a goal of building a business is not the road most traveled. It requires constant moments of micro-innovation to keep things moving in the right direction. Everything from developing new approaches to solving big challenges with limited resources, it all requires an innovative mindset to get the job done effectively.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
Salesmanship. A PR person has to continuously sell to get the job done. Whether you’re pitching a story, a creative campaign or your team on your recommended’s all sales. Comfort with conflict. The most effective PR practitioners don’t shy away from a little conflict - they actually move towards it. This comfort ensures a willingness to have the tough conversation with clients that allows for a more successful program.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Sweat. When I hit the creative wall, I have to hit the gym, the trail or get on the bike. An intense workout forces you to focus on the task at hand and when it’s complete I’m always in a better mind state to solve the problems of the day.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
1. It’s all about your team. Hire differently. Go outside the traditional channels. Diversity in experience always leads to better creative ideas and innovative thinking. 
2. Don’t be afraid of it. Too many people equate innovation with upending change and as we all know, change can be scary. Define your goals, build your roadmap, find the right people and just get out there and do. Just do...and course correct along the way.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Talent. The right people solve all my problems.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend someone rent, read or stream tonight?
I just watched "The Great Hack" on Netflix. It’s a shocking look at the power of consumer data and the massive implications of its misuse. For anyone that’s doing work with data privacy, marketing technologies or consumer insights brands and tools, it’s a must watch. Additionally, I finally read Shoe Dog, a memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight. If you’re a fan of a classic underdog story, grab a copy of this one.