The Innovation SABRE Awards — North America 2020
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An ambitious head of comms who is blurring the boundaries between PR and marketing at one of the world’s biggest tech companies, Samsung Electronics’ head of PR and comms in the UK, Amy Campbell, is an evangelist for earned first creative. Recognised by her agency teams as an emerging sharp-shooter in in-house communications, Campbell has been instrumental in advancing the role of PR at Samsung and has overseen numerous innovative above-the-line advertising-style campaigns with an PR approach, which have garnered huge plaudits in the tech industry. Before joining Samsung in 2017, Campbell had risen through the ranks of Superdry’s communications team over seven years to become its global PR manager.
Where is the most urgent need for innovation within the PR/communications industry?
I truly believe there is a need to transform measurement, in my years of experience, I don’t believe that the industry has quite nailed how to demonstrate business ROI in ways that other disciplines do. It is important to define the metrics which matter, there is so much you can measure and you need to avoid navel gazing. Context is everything.
How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
The line between disciplines is becoming ever more blurred, but this opens up opportunities to collectively take ideas to the next level. I constantly learn from my peers within marketing, CSR, social media and digital. Within PR, your work is so intrinsically linked to society, culture and the evolving news agenda that you are often empowered to take chances and challenge perceptions.
How have the events of 2020 impacted innovation in the PR and communications industry?
2020 has been a year of enormous change and disruption, but this has also presented the industry with an opportunity to innovate and accelerate a change in ways of working which have stagnated over the years. You can no longer rely on ideas or tactics that previously delivered: as comms professionals, we have had to be both agile and resilient, which has led to innovation at pace.
Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
The move to blended virtual and physical experiences has been an incredible shift and a trend which will continue well into the ‘next normal’. We can’t rest on our laurels and must continue to challenge how we best engage media, KOLs, partners and consumers in 2021 and beyond.
What is the ideal working scenario for innovation?
Ironically, if you had asked me this in 2019 I would have said face-to-face collaboration, but now it is about excellent virtual communication. Finding tools which foster the same level of interaction digitally has been invaluable. Collaboration is a mentality: I believe that we all need to start with ‘yes, and’ rather than ‘no’. The best ideas should push you out of your comfort zone.
Has 2020 changed the way you define/approach innovation? How?
The events of 2020 quite often led the industry to innovate as a necessity, because we had to, in 2021 and beyond we must keep up the positivity and excitement and continue to improve because we want to.
What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen this year?
I always think Bodyform do an incredible job in challenging the status quo and outdated notions; their Womb Stories campaign bravely spotlights the conversations which are usually only whispered behind closed doors. Why is there still such stigma, shame and silence associated with normal bodily functions? Who knows, but bravo to Bodyform for tackling this.
What is the most important lesson you've learned this year?
You always find a way. So much in 2020 changed, from how the industry approached events and experiences, to how comms professionals crafted meaningful stories which cut through in a time of news fatigue. I am endlessly impressed by the enthusiasm and drive I have encountered this year, everyone has flexed to meet the situation before them and kept the spirit of collaboration alive.
Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Recently, I had the pleasure of collaborating with Notting Hill Carnival to help take the iconic carnival from a physical experience to a virtual format using Samsung’s 8K technology. From our agency partners, Taylor Herring, to the support of our internal teams and contributors, everyone mobilised incredibly quickly to deliver something really special. We (safely) shot a selection of amazing performances in 8K with Galaxy S20 devices, and showcased the content on QLED 8K TVs and via retail, OOH and digital channels, which meant that fans didn’t miss a moment.
Any habit/activity that you have added to your life this year that you hope to take forward post-pandemic?
At work, I have learned to keep positive and stay curious – something I would love to continue to build on. At home – I am a walking cliché but – I have really enjoyed doing yoga on a more regular basis. It has given me a sense of purpose and helped me to adjust to a different pace.
How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) and what is the biggest obstacle?
There are a number of obstacles to overcome, but I think the best thing we can do as a collective is lean in to the difficult conversations and learn from one another. We need to approach with empathy and understanding, not everyone gets everything right, but as long as there is an acknowledgement that obstacles exist, you can start to build awareness and create action.
What are you thinking about most these days?
Work. But in a good way. To me, work is part of my lifestyle rather than just a job. PR is such a fast-paced, evolving industry that allows you to constantly think of new ideas and new ways of doing things – who wouldn’t want to be part of that?
Your bold prediction for 2021…
Blended virtual and physical experiences will be an innate part of our lives. Whether that is from a professional perspective or in our everyday lives, it will become second nature.
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