Victoria Gates-Fleming | The Innovator 25 North America 2021

Victoria Gates-Fleming

Vice President, Digital Strategy & Creative Insights 

Day One Agency  

Los Angeles, CA

Hometown: London, UK

“Connecting to culture shouldn’t come at the expense of understanding your audience or strategic decision making."

As VP of digital strategy and creative insights at Day One, Victoria Gates-Fleming  helps lead a team to dream up creative ideas. Over the past year, Victoria has built a rapidly growing, remote team, leading impactful business results. For instance, her recent work with Black Forest, The Virtual National Forest, won an Innovation SABRE Award for Best Use of Social Photos, as well as a number of Shorty Social Good Awards. Gates-Fleming  and her team of creative strategists created the world’s  first-ever crowd-sourced, entirely digital national forest in an ongoing effort with the National Forest Foundation (NFF) to help plant 1.5 million trees across US forests  by the end of 2022. 

Do you think the global pandemic has made the industry more innovative? If you would like, please elaborate on your response.
More innovative. The pandemic has totally upturned everything, changing the way we live, work, interact and do business. However, constraints can ultimately be good for innovation as creative people always find ways to break them. In facing this global crisis, the industry has been forced to innovate. With consumer behavior changing rapidly and culture shifting overnight, it’s been more important than ever to have an agile approach and be adaptable. At Day One, we’re a creative communications agency built for the next 10 years (and 24 hours). That’s never felt more relevant.

What professional accomplishment are you most proud of? 
I'm very proud of how our team at Day One pivoted so many times throughout the pandemic to collaborate and continue to create awesome award-winning work. I also had a baby last year and I think going back to work (from home) as a working mother in the midst of the pandemic is my proudest accomplishment. Working parents are amazing!

We're at a pivotal moment on the future of the office and how we work. How would like to see 'office/work culture' evolve?
I think we've all learnt a lot from over a year of remote work and most of us have been surprised by how well we've adapted. As we look towards the post-pandemic work culture, it would be great to see continued opportunity for flexibility. When it’s possible, I do think that we will all have a renewed appreciation for in-person meetings and face-to-face collaboration - I'm excited to be working in a (non-Zoom) room with my colleagues and clients again. It's going to be increasingly important for companies to optimize these in-person moments, making sure office time is meaningful and collaborative. Our interactions have been at the mercy of our WiFi connections and Zoom schedules for so long. How will we make the most of our time in person again and foster moments of serendipity?

How can the PR industry make real progress in diversity, inclusion and equity?
For the PR industry to make real progress with DE&I, leaders must acknowledge societal inequities. It is our job to actively educate ourselves and those around us on the steps we can take to shift mindsets, behaviors and practices. At Day One Agency, we’ve made a commitment to being actively anti-racist, creating an inclusive environment where everyone belongs. We do this by evaluating the current systems we have in place in order to ensure we have fair, equitable, and inclusive processes and programs for our current and prospective employees.

What makes you most excited or proud to be part of the PR industry? 
We’re in the midst of radical consumer behavior shifts and brands are having to adapt. There’s no denying we’re in turbulent times and consumers are re-evaluating their spending habits, demanding more transparency from companies. Brands have been forced to step back and rethink their relationships with consumers, shifting their communication to build trust and sometimes business models as a result. Conscious consumers are choosing brands that align more with their sense of purpose - and that’s especially true of Millennials and Gen Z. That makes it an exciting time to work in the industry as communication from brands is becoming more honest, more authentic, more human.

What are your fears/concerns for our industry? 
Connecting to culture shouldn’t come at the expense of understanding your audience or strategic decision making. Culture moves faster than ever and it can be hard for brands to keep up. It’s important that we are all still driving forward ideas that are deeply rooted in consumer insights and human truths. The focus on speed can make some creative work feel like hollow attempts to hog the spotlight.

What inspires you? This could be a person, place, activity, etc.
It’s so hard to pick one thing! Honestly I’m inspired by many things on a daily basis. Part of working in strategy is about connecting dots across seemingly random experiences and disciplines, finding patterns and curiosity in the mundane. Relationships, fragments of conversations, strangers on the street, even a disused laundromat or gas station. But if I had to pick three core sources of inspiration for me, I’d say art, travel and immersive theatre. All three have the ability to literally transport you, move you emotionally and see the world differently.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Gen Alpha. My daughter just turned one and I absolutely love watching her explore the world. I’m thinking a lot about how quickly she is growing and how fascinated she is by the tiniest detail or household object. But what will she be interested in ten or twenty years from now? I’m thinking alot about how we need to leave the world a better place for her generation and future generations after that.

What is your idea of happiness?
A weekend spent with my family and friends. Either a day out adventuring somewhere with lots of hiking, a picnic and wild swimming. Or, my husband and I love cooking and hosting. So our idea of happiness usually involves a long delicious lunch at home in LA (probably Mexican or Italian sharing plates) followed by a walk with our dog Buddy.