Nik Govier | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2019

Nik Govier

CEO & Founder


“Innovation is pausing and asking what can we do today that couldn’t have been done yesterday. How has the world changed? What’s new? How can we harness it?”

At the end of 2017 Nik Govier left Unity, the agency she founded with Gerry Hopkinson in 2005, and the entire London PR scene waited to see what the super-bright, creative powerhouse would do next. In October 2018 she launched a new agency, Blurred, alongside former Weber Shandwick strategy and creative director Stuart Lambert and ex-Unity and Brands2Life director Katy Stolliday. The trio have set out to build an agency that recognises the blurred lines between marketing and consulting disciplines, and blurs them itself in the breadth and depth of the work it offers. Just one year after launch, the agency has a client portfolio including LVMH Paris and Marriot, and the scope of its work reaches well beyond traditional PR, including management consultancy, creative, branding, employee engagement, crisis consultancy, purposeful business consulting and change management. During Govier’s 12 years at Unity, the agency won more than 400 awards and was consistently named as one of the most creative agencies in the world. 

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
We live in a time of extraordinary innovation where almost anything is possible. That ethos needs to be harnessed and translated into what we do. It’s not about what’s come before. It’s about what’s possible today that might not have been possible yesterday.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
About the same as other marketing disciplines.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Purpose and sustainability aren’t going anywhere as we reach a global crisis point. And with huge political instability, globally, people are increasingly looking to businesses and brands to solve social problems. This is an area we can own, because they count for nothing if not truly imbedded in business practice as well as internal and external comms. We all now care fundamentally about the businesses behind the brands and the companies that recognise this are the ones that are turning it into shareholder value and increased profitability.

How do you define innovation?
Pausing and asking what can we do today that couldn’t have been done yesterday. How has the world changed? What’s new? How can we harness it?

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
The egg that broke the internet. I love it because it also broke all the rules. It didn’t come from an agency, but someone with beer-in-hand on a Friday night that decided to do it just for kicks. It wasn’t planned out with charts and timelines, but evolved organically as it travelled around the world, catching like fire. It didn’t sell out when it so easily could have, but instead used its power to highlight the pressures of internet scrutiny. Glorious. And it’s still going. Long live Eugene.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
There are spark of genius everywhere but no one agency or brand stands out to me.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Setting up Blurred. Alongside the other founding partners, I took everything I’d learned over a 20-year career and threw it all out. The world had changed. Our industry also needed to change. The way things had always been done were no long right. Starting from scratch was liberating and invigorating.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
Natural news sense. It’s still what sets us apart.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
By embracing mindlessness – there’s nothing like watching The Jungle Book for the 70th time with my kids and allowing my mind to wander.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Everything you need is all around you. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Make like a sponge and suck it up. In the months before launching Blurred I filled my days by meeting people from all walks of life. They each gave me something. Blurred is really the brain child of 100 caffeine-based conversations. And this continues today. Katy, Stu and I spend a day a week out in the world meeting people and always will.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Where to place our bets. There are so many interesting areas to explore but only so much time and money. I’m a big believer in go big or go home, but you can’t go big everywhere and on everything.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend to rent, read or stream tonight?
“His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman. I’m re-reading them with my daughter and am captivated. Such imagination and innovation.