Carly Wyatt | The Innovator 25 North America 2020

Carly Wyatt 

Director of Communications

Portland, Oregon

“It may sound simple, but I spend more time thinking about people: How can we create a meaningful impact in this environment and ensure we understand what is top-of-mind for people?"

When Carly Wyatt joined Zoox in 2019 alongside new CEO, Aicha Evans, the company was much-hyped — and much maligned. At the time, the AV industry was dealing with slipping timelines for deployment due to a complex regulatory environment and changing social attitudes. But a year later, under Evans leadership and Wyatt steering the company's reputation — Zoox has been acquired by Amazon and is reported to be the second-largest deal in Amazon's history. Prior to joining Zoox, Carly served as Chief of Staff for Intel's Chief Strategy Officer following a decade in various communications roles at Intel.

Where is the most urgent need for innovation within the PR/communications industry? 
In this environment, we all need to reconsider what engagement can look like. Without the ability for in-person engagements, and being mindful of the broader societal landscape, we have an opportunity and responsibility to evolve beyond what we’ve done in the past.

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

How have the events of 2020 impacted the the industry's innovation?
I’m proud of what I’ve seen the industry rally around this year. We all had to make difficult decisions to cancel and/or adjust plans, and support our teams and partners through an incredibly difficult year. With that came digitally-focused engagement, trial and error with tactics, and leaning in more on bringing people together.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Integrated marketing

What is the ideal working scenario for innovation? 
Trust and belief in the mission. We need to debate, push each other, try new things, and be 'in the arena' with each other. Innovation can only go so far without trusted partnerships and true belief in what you are striving to achieve together.

Has 2020 changed the way you define/approach innovation? How?
I have to imagine it has changed for us all. It may sound simple, but I spend more time thinking about people: How can we create a meaningful impact in this environment and ensure we understand what is top-of-mind for people?

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen this year?
Nike’s ‘You Can’t Stop Us’ ad and Ford’s Bronco reveal.

What is the most important lesson you've learned this year?
Pace yourself, and take care of yourself.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Making the leap to Zoox! I chose to leave an established, mature company to join an ambitious startup to build a communications strategy from scratch. It was an opportunity of a lifetime to partner with an incredibly talented team that is re-imaging the future of ride-hailing by designing autonomous technology from the ground up. And we’ve been on a journey to introduce Zoox to the world ever since...

Any habit/activity that you have added to your life during Covid-19 that you hope to carry with you when the pandemic subsides? 
Baking with my now 3-year-old son :) I traveled a lot prior to 2020, and while juggling working and parenting from home has been difficult, we’ve found new ways to connect.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity? What is the biggest roadblock standing in the way?
Public relations represents both brands - and people - from all backgrounds and cultures. Unfortunately, efforts toward diversity, inclusion, and equity are often viewed as a “requirement” for an organization when in reality, diversity and inclusion need to be a core component of an organization’s business model.  At Zoox, we know that diversity and inclusion foster the innovation necessary to be successful. To create something that will truly serve the world, we work to build a team and culture where unique perspectives and ideas can thrive. We are committed to building a multidisciplinary cross-functional team that embraces a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Professionally - planning for all the great news Zoox will be sharing soon :); Personally - keeping up with my 3-year-old.

Bold prediction for 2021 
In the world of autonomous technology, the media and public finally move past the hype of an industry known for making bold claims, and seeing actually becomes believing.