Michael Ramlet | The Innovator 25 North America 2020
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Michael Ramlet 

Cofounder and CEO

Morning Consult  
Chicago

“The reason old-school firms in the PR industry have failed to innovate is because they have been unable to attract leading technical talent and marry them with an industry-leading strategy.”

As Co-Founder and CEO of Morning Consult, Michael Ramlet has given more than half of the Fortune 500 the ability to better understand their consumers through revolutionary market and research data and intelligence. Under Ramlet’s leadership, the data intelligence company has grown from a small start-up in Washington, D.C. to one of the fastest growing tech companies in North America. As Covid-19 has seemingly changes the global economy, Ramlet led the oversight of Economic Intelligence, which offers daily measures of the economy and consumer confidence, in order to give leaders insight into consumer habits and spending.

Where is the most urgent need for innovation within the PR/communications industry? 
Speed to insight. It takes too long and costs too much for old-school survey research firms like Kantar, Harris, Ipsos, and RepTrak to deliver data insights to PR and communications executives. Morning Consult’s greatest innovation has been to deliver daily data on over 4,000 brands in the 15 largest economies, so PR and communications executives have real-time access to insight.

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? More innovative because leading companies have taken the opportunity to switch to better, faster, and cheaper solutions to get access to real-time data.

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Analytics and measurement

What is the ideal working scenario for innovation?
It doesn’t matter if you are working remotely or in an office, it simply comes down to people. The reason old-school firms in the PR industry have failed to innovate is because they have been unable to attract leading technical talent and marry them with an industry-leading strategy.

Has 2020 changed the way you define/approach innovation? How?
It has emboldened our approach. Fast-moving events like the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement demanded PR and communications leaders have access to real-time data on what people think in every city, state, and country. This year alone, we launched daily tracking in three new international markets and now cover the 15 largest economies in the world, leading the Federal Reserve and European Central Bank to use data innovation.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen this year?
Disney+ and its move to theatrical releases on streaming platforms, which led the industry to turn to data innovation to evaluate price sensitivity, earned media, and paid media.

What is the most important lesson you've learned this year?
Always invest for the long-term. We’ve more than doubled our revenue, staff, and technical capabilities because of investments we made years ago. This year reinforced the lesson of making strategic investments that payoff over time and maintaining the convocation in those investments.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Three years ago, we made a decision to start tracking consumer confidence on a daily basis in the 15 largest economies. No firm had ever done it more than monthly or in more than one country. While we couldn’t have predicted a global pandemic recession that would require daily data, we knew that the technology was ready to make this advancement, and we did it because our culture is committed to scaling innovation.

Any habit/activity that you have added to your life during Covid-19 that you hope to carry with you when the pandemic subsides? 
Cooking family dinners on Sundays has been the most stress relieving activity in my life.

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity? What is the biggest roadblock standing in the way? Investing in secondary and post-secondary education programs that create compelling real-world professional experiences and inspire diverse candidates to enter the industry.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Where we should expand next on a global basis, both with respect to Morning Consult offices in EMEA and APAC as well as in our daily data collection, especially in Africa and Southeast Asia.

Bold prediction for 2021 
There will be a double-dip recession globally that amplifies the pressure on Global 2000 companies to operate faster and more efficiently, which will benefit the most innovative firms like Morning Consult at the expense of old-school firms like Kantar, Harris, Ipsos, and RepTrak.