Dionne Taylor | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2019

Dionne Taylor


Polkadot Communications

“I rarely get bogged down in competitor brands as I find that pigeonholes my creative thinking”

As a PR agency owner and former journalist, Dionne Taylor wanted to improve the relationship between individuals on both sides of the equation, particularly around the antiquated pitch process that frequently results in press releases and the like never getting read. The result: Story Match, an online marketplace that connects with members of the media most likely to cover their stories — and want to be found. Taylor successfully launched the app, drove subscriptions in Australia and is gearing up to debut Story Match in the USA in January 2020, alongside another new business called The PR Loop — a peer to peer platform that connects professional PRs, marketing pros and journalists to transact business and improve workflow. 

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is taking parts of the old, and creating something new to improve our methodologies, tactics, execution and ultimately, outcome.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
The development of Story Match, of course! The app and desktop platform that connects brands with relevant members of the media to allow all brands to tactfully connect with journalists and feed journalists content that only they are interested in.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
In Australia, compared to the international market, all agencies have to work hard for their clients to ensure they're achieving a good cross-section of media coverage for their clients. With a shrinking media pool we need to look at ways to excite new audiences and share messages, and I believe that a brand led by a strategic agency is able to achieve this. Compared to other markets, such as the USA where the media pool is enormous, we in Australia are strengthening our connections with journalists like never before, crafting messaging so that it speaks to their target audiences and strategically placing those pitches in relevant media.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
Over the past two years I have been working on changing the media landscape. I have owned my agency Polkadot Communications for nearly 14 years, and if I reflect back on the way we did business when I started the business compared to now, there are many similarities. Something needed to shift in our industry, to ensure that we are "keeping up with the times" and consumer behaviours. With a shrinking media pool we are also relying on new tactics to be innovative and make our clients stand out. I also wanted to leave a legacy. I am uncertain as to the future of "agencies" and needed to future proof my career. This led me to the creation of Story Match, the app and desktop platform that connects brands with relevant members of the media. The innovative platform connects brands and journalists based on matching industry tags, to ensure that a journalist never receives another press release that they don't want to read, and gives agencies and all brands the opportunity to get media exposure. This innovation will (hopefully) see an end to the "press release" and also the spray and pray approach that so many agencies and PR professionals still adopt. This 'moment' in my career has now seen me successfully launch the app, drive subscriptions in Australia and I am gearing up for the launch of Story Match in the USA in January 2020 alongside a new business I have started called The PR Loop with a co-founder in the US - a peer to peer platform that connects professional PRs, marketing pros and journalists to transact business and improve workflow. 

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
There's one brand that constantly moves the needle in respect to technology, innovation and execution. That company is Dyson. They have discovered every pain point for the consumer when it comes to cleaning, air control, beauty, and have used technology to improve their products. This makes them the market leader not only in their original category (vacuums), but across multiple categories. I deeply respect James Dyson for his innovation and for his foresight.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Very weirdly the best ideas come to me when I am in the bathroom. I'm not sure what it is, whether it's the silence, the lack of technology and disruption, but I always have my creative juices flowing when I am in the bathroom. When I research I rarely get bogged down in competitor brands as I find that pigeonholes my creative thinking. I look to other brands who are in non-competing industries and see what they've done. This inspires me.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Take it with both hands. A mentor Geoff Michels from Michels Warren once said to me over a decade ago "if you constantly work on things of today, you will never be ready for things of tomorrow" and this has stuck with me and I have implemented this mentality into everything that I do. This is why we have shifted as an agency, why I have developed Story Match, why I am going into the US with a new venture The PR Loop, and why we are not doing business today the same way we were over a decade ago. Our industry has changed, but so has the world. As consumers we want fast, efficient methodologies and this should extend to the way we receive our news, and absorb our news. The PR industry needs to catch up, and I would adapt the same motto that Geoff shared with me to anyone in the PR industry. Look forward.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I can't ever imagine not working, but I have always had a deep respect for paramedics, and have also looked into this as a 'side career' — maybe one day!

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. I don't often re-read books but I loved that for its message.

What's your favourite time of day and why?
Friday night at 7pm, we sit down with the family for a dinner — every single Friday night it's a ritual that cannot be broken.