Innovation SABRE Awards — North America 2022
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Brenda Juliet is a shining example of someone who has used a traditional PR background as a springboard to pursue her true passions – in her case for music, and supporting women and diversity in the creative industries. Juliet studied media and PR before landing her first roles in technology and corporate PR at agencies including Nelson Bostock, and has now segued into music PR. This summer, she co-founded MyBlaqBook with former Polydor exec Giovanna Mae, a music and entertainment PR and publicity agency that represents emerging and established Black talent in the UK, the US and Africa. The duo cite the PRS Foundation’s ‘Power Up’ campaign – an ambitious, long-term initiative which aims to support Black music creators and industry professionals and executives – as their inspiration for the launch of MyBlaqBook, breaking through multiple ceilings as two Black women leading PR campaigns in a male-dominated industry. Juliet is also the founder of Girls in Power UK, a network dedicated to supporting and empowering women in the creative industries.
How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines?
About the same.
Do you think the global pandemic has made the industry more innovative?
Yes. We definitely have had to think a little more outside the box, tailoring campaign ideas and strategies to the new world we currently live in due to the pandemic. It’s been interesting to work around the challenges over the last 18 months or so, but that’s the fun in PR.
Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation?
Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is?
Communications/PR agency. It’s the people in touch with the culture and current trends, especially with the increased rise in social media activity.
How do you define innovation?
Innovation is adding your very own personal stamp to a traditional way of working. There’s nothing in the world that is completely brand new, but what sets you apart from others is how you execute an idea, how you bring it alive, how you get people talking and wanting to know more, the choice in who you collaborate with to bring skill sets and creative ideas together. It’s utilising what you know you bring to the table and flipping it to make the outcome distinctively unique.
What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
To be completely transparent, I haven’t really seen a stand out marketing initiative this year but now that the world is restoring to normality a little more, I’m we’ll see a soar in more creative campaigns. One that I can say I found really interesting and a little innovative was McDonalds tapping into US artist Saweetie’s love for remixing food choices & ASMR. They allowed her to create her own Limited Edition menu called the ‘McSweetie Meal’ and encouraged her fans and followers to share their most weird combination of food choices. Strange but fitting for Saweetie and it got people talking.
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.'
For me personally, it was loving my role at my previous tech agency and later translating what I had learnt over the last few years into working in music. Starting my own agency has been an incredible experience so far and I am excited to see what’s in store for the company over the next few years.
Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
My mentor, Kamiqua Pearce. She inspires me to think big in PR and really encouraged me to start my own agency. Her presence across the industry and a thought leader, speaker and founder of both Coldr and UK Black Comms Network is a testimony in itself. She is a comms star.
How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Breaks are very necessary. I’m lucky I have the luxury of taking time off when days/weeks are less busy, but tapping out and spending time with yourself is always necessary.
What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
As clichéd as it sounds, just be yourself. For a long time, I was putting ideas forward I thought managers and team leads expected to hear or see, but bringing your own experiences and interests to the table offers a fresh and much needed perspective.
What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I applied to be a primary school teacher before focusing on PR.
Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has helped you get through this year or provided inspiration?
Not so much inspiration but the Netflix series Sex Education is incredible – love the storylines and all rounded inclusion in the show. Definitely a recommended watch.
What's your favourite time of day and why?
During summer, it’s the morning because I love the ‘start of day’ freshness with the sun beaming though the windows (when we get it!), but during winter, it’s the evening as I like to get all cosied up at the end of the day.
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