Curtis Sparrer | The Innovator 25 North America 2020

Curtis Sparrer 

Principal and co-founder

San Francisco

“In order for PR to make profound progress in diversity, inclusion, and equity, the industry needs to get far outside of its six degrees of Kevin Bacon complex.”

Five years ago, Curtis Sparrer and Chris Boehlke launched Bospar as an all virtual agency, operating with the belief that remote working would be the wave of the future. Today, Bospar is a testament to how successful a virtual agency can be, while serving as a model for an entire industry forced to go remote due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Sparrer creative ingenuity has driven several media campaigns that have caught fire in a saturated market and he advocates for authentic interpersonal interactions in this moment where "bringing your whole self to work" is essential.

Where is the most urgent need for innovation within the PR/communications industry? 
Tools that track PR placements to business/sales conversions.

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? 
No impact 

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

What is the ideal working scenario for innovation?
I've worked in newsrooms, bullpens, and now the quiet sanctity of my own home for over the past five years.  That's why I'm so passionately opposed to the din of open offices.  In fact, I'll be a touch pretentious and invoke German philosopher Theodor Lessing: noise is bad for innovation.  Quiet wins.

Has 2020 changed the way you define/approach innovation? How?
We are acutely aware that we need to demonstrate how PR provides business value.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen this year?
Black Lives Matter

What is the most important lesson you've learned this year?
Perseverance wins. 
Perseverance wins. 
Perseverance wins. 
Perseverance wins. 
Perseverance wins.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
It's a toss-up.  It's either when I persuaded Google to change their Doodle to the building blocks of Tetris and then had that link back to the Tetris home page.  Or when I convinced the SETI Institute to host PayPal for PayPal Galactic.

Any habit/activity that you have added to your life during Covid-19 that you hope to carry with you when the pandemic subsides? 
I hope to continue reading more.  I hope to keep on practicing my French and Japanese more.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity? What is the biggest roadblock standing in the way?
PR is an industry about connections, so from its inception it's been incestuous. In order for PR to make profound progress in diversity, inclusion, and equity, the industry needs to get far outside of its six degrees of Kevin Bacon complex.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
I think about the future of media: what will newspapers, broadcast outlets, and other media sites look like in 2030? How will PR play a role in that?

Bold prediction for 2021 
I think 2021 will be a year of correction.  Not a market correction, but a year where we correct the "fake news" and "alternative facts" of the past four years.