Sabrina Lynch | The Innovator 25 North America 2020

Sabrina Lynch  

Senior Vice President 

New York

“The industry had to pivot under out-of-the-ordinary circumstances and it's reset the norms for innovative thought, strategy and execution." 

Sabrina Lynch has long been one of the PR Industry’s most fervent and effective champions of diversity, equity & inclusion, which is infused into her work for the likes of Diageo, P&G and Samsung Global. With racial justice top of mind, Lynch’s recent output has included campaigns to tackle inequality and police brutality, most notably P&G’s Take on Race and Diageo’s $20 million Community Fund. With an innate sense of what makes consumers tick, Lynch is also spearheading Samsung’s efforts to reach Gen Z - and their parents - which includes helping craft new modes of interactivity and creating content.

Where is the most urgent need for innovation within the PR/communications industry? 
Diversity of thought that's rooted in the understanding of different communities around the world. There is too much emphasis on linear, one-dimensional thinking in a nonlinear, diverse and eclectic world.

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

How have the events of 2020 impacted the the industry's innovation?  
More innovative 

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

What is the ideal working scenario for innovation?
The pandemic has shown that productivity, creativity and quality of culture is not necessarily dictated by being within office walls. The ideal scenario is working wherever, and with whoever, inspires you.

Has 2020 changed the way you define/approach innovation? How?
I believe the events of 2020 have changed the collective approach to innovation by shaking up the status quo. The industry has had to pivot under out-of-the-ordinary circumstances and it's reset the norms for innovative thought, strategy and execution. It's a welcome change.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen this year?
It's come from the general public. A global union that created its own communications and marketing to shine a light on social injustice and civil rights. Brands just followed their lead.

What is the most important lesson you've learned this year?
Appreciate your blessings in the many shapes and forms they come in.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Being a creator of the Inclusivity Quotient - criteria to measure and evaluate the level of inclusivity that every piece of technology provides to individuals; no matter their background, physical ability, age, location economic status.  I presented it to Lenovo who included it as part of their business D&I goals. 

Given the political and social climate of today, it’s never been more important to recognize simple things we do in our day-to-day that could bring us closer together, particularly under-serviced communities who are "mined" for their creativity but never recognized.

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'll definitely continue to find more time to read. I've been "inhaling" such great literature, essays and photographic journals.  Audre Lorde, Thomas Sowell, Isabel Wilkerson, Basil K. Bryan, Tyler Mitchell, I could go on and on!

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity? What is the biggest roadblock standing in the way?
The industry can continue to acknowledge the plight and fights of communities who have been battling systematic racism. 

Be on the frontlines and put action behind the words you've been saying for six months now. No more plans - let's see tangible movement. The biggest roadblock would be the industry itself. You're either a uploader of D&I or a bystander.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
I'm thinking about the well-being of my family, friends and students I teach.

Bold prediction for 2021 
The saying "Go viral" will go away in favor of "Be relevant".