Gemma Cook | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2019

Gemma Cook

PR Manager

Amazon Alexa/Echo

“We have to think of new ways to innovate in PR if we are going to get coverage in a world of sensationalised news stories and click bait headlines.”

Gemma Cook has been the UK public relations manager for Amazon's leading voice products, Alexa and Echo, since March last year. She may be a relative youngster in this year's Innovator 25, but she has a strong technology PR pedigree, having started her career agency-side at Kazoo looking after the day-to-day running of the Samsung account. Cook then went in-house at Samsung Electronics, with a role that spanned managing campaigns for mobile and wearable products, CSR and corporate work, including crisis and issues. She then spent three years at HMD Global, home of Nokia Smartphones, before making waves with her innovative ideas at Amazon.

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
I believe that in PR we have more scope to take risks and be innovative than other marketing disciplines. Being innovative in today's media climate often means being brave and taking risks in order to get widespread coverage, so I'd say there's always room to be a bit bolder in order to be more innovative.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
More innovative than other marketing disciplines.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Creative ideas. And better measurement would lead to better informed ideas.

How do you define innovation?
In PR I would define it as looking for new and different ways to get (or improve) coverage. That could be anything from changing a process to coming up with a totally different idea for a campaign.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Nike’s Just Do It campaign is a good example of an influencer programme that can drive press coverage.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
From a brand perspective Ikea and Lidl. From an agency perspective, Taylor Herring are known for their brave ideas.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
Determination and bravery.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Don't stress about it and take time to think about the problem away from the workplace. Creative ideas need time to develop. If I'm stuck, I find it helpful to talk about ideas with other creative people.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
The media landscape has already changed a lot and continues to do so, so PR has no choice but to embrace innovation. We have to think of new ways to innovate in PR if we are going to get coverage in a world of sensationalised news stories and click bait headlines.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
How to better integrate working with influencers into PR campaigns.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend to rent, read or stream tonight?
Working Moms on Netflix: one of the characters works in PR and some of the funnier scenarios in her work life will resonate with anyone working in PR. I also love All or Nothing (Man City) on Amazon Prime. Even if you aren't a football fan, it's very interesting to see behind the scenes of the team.