Innovation SABRE Awards — North America 2022
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Of all the dozens of new agencies launching in the UK in 2020, Hera Communications Strategies stands out, for both its proposition and its leadership. Former Newgate and Instinctif associate partner Anna Geffert founded the agency to combine her expertise in corporate and financial PR and capital markets – from start-ups to FTSE giants across financial services, property, banking, retail and insurance – with her belief that solid research should underpin everything her team does for clients. Geffert has been described as one of the most impressive, credible and trusted operators in the industry, combining a laser-sharp brain and deep understanding of the nuances of business and the boardroom with real thoughtfulness and empathy. She is also committed to supporting and advancing the wider PR industry: this year she was voted in as the president of networking organisation Women in PR, with a commitment to tackle issues such as ageism and sexual harassment, and is the co-founder of the PRCA’s new SME group for small agency owners.
How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
Do you think the global pandemic has made the industry more innovative?
Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is?
How do you define innovation?
To break down barriers and raise the bar within a sector.
What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
It's more of a 'movement' but I've really enjoyed seeing the rise of SME agencies and a transferal of power from the C-suite of big agencies to the employees. We have more new SME agencies in the PR sector than ever before, which will really help to boost diversity, creativity and innovation in our sector through competition and haring best practice. Brands2Life has also introduced a brilliant Employee Ownership Trust, so the company is now majority owned by its employees. I really like this approach as it opens up key conversations on ethics and the running of the business to the whole company and fosters a sense of pride and autonomy from JAE to CEO.
In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
I loved The Romans' telephone scamming campaign with Santander and the Chelsea Pensioners. It was a challenging brief and something which was sadly on the rise following Covid. But their campaign tackled the issues in a humorous way while also being very respectful of their target audience. I also loved Frank's Beans on Weetabix campaign, it really tapped into the national mood and our search for laughter during the bleakest of lockdowns.
Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
I think when I took over the presidency of Women in PR earlier this year, mid-lockdown, I was forced to be quite innovative. It's not easy running a networking organisation during lockdown, so we had to really re-evaluate our member benefit structure and what we are doing to help our members. Being at the coalface of equality issues during the pandemic, I've seen just how difficult it has been for women and that has really inspired me and the committee to bring new initiatives to our members, such as a new jobs board, new member benefit offers and targeted campaigns which help women up-skill and also tackle ageism within the sector.
Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
I'm a huge fan of Angie Moxham at The Fourth Angel, who has been at the forefront of innovation at agency level for years. She really inspires me and has been so helpful in providing advice and support over this last year. I also love David Gallagher from Omnicom, who has consistently pushed the boundaries in terms of research, data and analytics in our sector as well as making sustainability and D&I a must-have for UK agencies.
How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Yoga, yoga, yoga!
What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Ignore it at your peril. There will be someone coming up who will be embracing these changes faster and better than you so be ahead of that curve and never stop learning.
What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Running an organic vineyard and yoga retreat in France – still the dream.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
I've gone back to basics on a few things and really enjoyed reading Byron Sharp's 'How Brands Grow' which is still as relevant today as it was in 2010! I've recently enjoyed reading The Boutique, which has helped me to see through the challenges of scaling my business. And I would thoroughly recommend watching Game Changer on Netflix – a real eye opener, so I'm on the road to becoming vegan, kind of. As Baroness Michelle Mone OBE says, "you should treat your body like your business" and as we (hopefully) come out of this pandemic, focusing on our health and fitness will be instrumental in giving us the energy to rebuild and reform.
What's your favourite time of day and why?
Early evening, I always try to make time for yoga or a class before putting the kids to bed and finishing off outstanding work. It's a great time to reflect on what I've achieved and what is still be done. And most importantly, it is 'me' time, which can be extremely hard to find but is so vitally important.
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