Shane Allison | The Innovator 25 Asia-Pacific 2020

Shane Allison


Public Address


“Currently we play it safe almost all of the time and miss opportunities because of this.”

In launching media relations platform Public Address, Shane Allison is giving traditional media relations a new twist, bringing data and analytics into a craft that, back in the day, was built on business lunches and combing press clippings. Public Address’s 21st century take on media relations aims to close the gap between what journalists need and what PR professionals have to deliver by creating the means for the professions to become more aligned. Through the platform, communicators can access data to inform their media relations strategies, using technology that analyzes the media relations activity out there and calculate expected outcomes of engaging in it. The key part, though, is Public Address provides communicators real-time feedback on the success of their efforts, meaning it can improve their effectiveness — and spare journalists from having irrelevant pitches filling their inboxes. 

How do you define innovation? 
Innovation is applying thinking, processes and methodology from other sectors and industries to communications to create novel solutions which haven't been seen before. Innovation is about building from what is around us - it's not a pursuit in isolation.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Lendlease's Mums of Safety campaign.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
When I was still working in an agency, I sold in a 'Communications-as-a-service' function where my agency created the communications function from scratch for the client and then handed it back over to the client as they staffed up. It was a unique, bold, approach to a fairly standard brief, and the client was bold enough to take it on. Communications-as-a-service remains one of the big, untapped growth areas for the profession. There was no one moment with Public Address where I was 'innovative.' Building a new platform is a process of identifying the problem, creating a solution, testing, then repeating. Endlessly!

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Ray Dalio - he shows innovation is iterative.

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Go for a swim.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
We're in a pretty unique position in the PR industry. The people we work with — in-house and agency — trust us with their reputation and brand. What we need to do to embrace innovation is identify safe areas to innovate - and areas to play it safe. Currently we play it safe, almost all of the time and miss opportunities because of this. Responding to an issue brief with a big creative campaign? It's possible - but we need to step up. We also need to be less channel-focused, and more solution-focused for our clients and stakeholders. When you think channel-first, you end up with the same old solutions. When you look at the problem that you're being asked to solve and create around that - anything is possible.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
Hands down I would be a management consultant.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration? 
I re-read Steven Lewis' Moneyball - a reminder that others have been through the challenge of bringing a data-driven approach to industries which haven't seen it before.

What's your favourite time of day and why? 
My favourite time of day is whenever I'm exercising. Creativity and innovation comes from connecting the dots when your brain isn't occupied and my brain needs the mindless repetition of swimming or cycling to reach that.