Emmanuel Guinot | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2019

Emmanuel Guinot

Head of Campaigns, Content & Digital

Renault Group

“You cannot just decide to innovate when you wake up. It’s a mix of behaviours, learnings, personal culture, acceptance of failure and on-going benchmarking. Above all, it’s an ability to dare.”

Emmanuel Guinot has been described as a “game-changing hire” for Renault. When he came on board two years ago, the communications team was organised in silos, with traditional PR alongside a print content team, and a separate social media team. Guinot brought digital, social and content experience and a new mindset into a team that hadn't had much exposure to modern communications best practices, and transformed the organisation, people, skillsets and deliverables into a multi-channel, creative, and high impact storytelling engine. He has made writers into digital content managers, and giving his team more confidence by introducing them to leaders and coaches at Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. He also introduced executives to social media platforms appropriate for their role, and even made something as potentially boring as a factory exciting by telling the story of Renault's digital manufacturing. He introduced new influencer approaches, with the first YouTube live studio on the Renault booth at the Paris Motor Show serving up live content during press days, and an influencer road trip in a Dacia car, creating content in a non-news cycle.

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
By recognising the strategic value of innovating. We must systematically think about the impact of our actions, and not only about the "message". It will lead us to review the hierarchy of our formats and channels. With the strong skepticism towards brands or politicians, we need to consider that we are entering an era of "peer-to-peer" communication, with new spokespeople and new platforms.

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

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Content creation.

How do you define innovation?
I would describe it as a mindset. You cannot just decide to innovate one day when you wake up. It’s a mix of behaviours, learnings, personal culture, acceptance of failure and on-going benchmarking. Above all, it’s an ability to dare.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
In a world full of negativity, the new Lego campaign “Rebuild the world” is a success. It's a call to creativity. It's designed to speak to kids and adults. And it's impactful, with a simple idea.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Brands that have understood that their marketing/communication strategy should resonate with their purpose in the society. First, of course, Nike. The campaign "Dream Crazy" sent shockwaves across the whole world in 2019. Not only did the company take some risks, but they also built a true 360-degree campaign (beginning with a tweet), with a strong message that resonates and demonstrated company's values. Patagonia also keeps on surprising people with a communication/marketing strategy that is close to social and environmental activism.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
When we decided to support the launch of a new concept car in a very unknown territory for us: the gaming world. Without being absolutely sure of the impact of it, we decided in 2018 to launch an international ARG (Alternate Reality Game). Players had to plunge into Groupe Renault’s innovation strategy to find out more about tomorrow’s mobility – autonomous, connected and electric. Most of our communication budget launch was dedicated to this experience, which was really far away from a traditional press release.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
In French, I would use the following expression: a PR person is a chameleon. People tend to forget that a PR expert has the ability to understand quickly almost everything about the company, even things that are between the lines.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Innovation or creativity are the opposite of science. There's no method. But I tend to think that the more creative people are the ones who are the more open to the outside world. People that are found of art, other cultures. In my case, my addiction to rock music and live shows gives me a lot of energy and, I hope, of creativity!

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
To keep in mind that nothing can be taken for granted. It's true for the way we work, the way we choose our formats, our messages, and the way we manage our teams, especially young comers in the PR/comms industry.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
The way the world is changing quickly. At many levels: environment, politics, information. A new world of trust is emerging and traditional representatives are in the front line. Our profession will be no exception.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend to rent, read or stream tonight?
As a digital specialist, I laugh a lot in front of Silicon Valley on HBO. It's good to make fun of a business world that we know quite well.