Drew McCaskill | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Andrew McCaskill

Corporate Communications Leader

Atlanta, GA

“Innovation happens at the intersection of creativity and need.”

Andrew McCaskill is a cultural analyst, DEI champion and marketing leader. Currently working as LinkedIn’s corporate comms leader, McCaskill draws on his wide-ranging expertise to craft strategic communications that are informed by cultural competency and inclusive. McCaskill regularly contributes cultural and economic analysis to SiriusXM. Before joining LinkedIn, led diversity & inclusion strategy for the global sales, marketing & public affairs function at Facebook and US consumer marketing and global communications at Nielsen. 
How do you define innovation? 
Innovation happens at the intersection of creativity and need. 

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months? 
The organizations that are executing truly integrated, 360 marketing and communications campaigns are the real winners. For the past three years, the company that does that the best has been P&G and their multicultural/inclusive marketing campaigns. From their (now iconic) "The Talk" campaign to the most recent "The Name" campaign, they're truly leading with award-winning and culture-shifting 

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing? 
Droga and Weber Shandwick are doing amazing work year after year after year. The work I see coming out of shops like Victory Creative Group and Team Epiphany is stellar. They have their finger on the pulse of culture. They're fresh and current, taking the right risks and betting on diverse audiences. Victory and Epiphany GET IT and they give it to their big brand clients. 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative. 
My most innovative moment was taking the risk of pulling out diverse insights and leveraging them as pride points for younger diverse audiences at Nielsen. We leaned into multicultural media, agencies, influencers and community groups to build awareness of our 100+ year old brand to build awareness, affinity and trust to a new generation of consumers. We leveraged integrated — advertising, PR,social media and experiential —campaigns to engage skeptical consumers to like, follow and trust us with their data. Five years of award-winning consumer engagement set the company up for two generations of awareness and trust. 

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Damon Jones at Procter and Gamble is the GOAT. He's a public policy and communications executive who understands the levers of culture. He knows his brands and corporate brand so well and is really judicious about when and how to pull those levers. I don't see anyone doing it better. 

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
When I need to get out of the creativity rut, I look at the work of professionals at smaller organizations with smaller budgets. Hunger will force you to be creative. There's a lot of inspiration to be found at scrappy brands. I also spend a lot of time with the youngest and the oldest folks in the organization. The veterans think about the brand and its legacy differently — you need that gut check from time to time, and younger folks have their finger on the pulse of culture and aren't encumbered by notions of "we did it like this last time." 

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
Social norms are changing rapidly. Regardless of how you feel about those shifts, don't hide from them. Demographic shifts are real. We should all be asking ourselves — has my audience changed and if so, how has it changed and what do I need to do to help them see my brand through the fog. 

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
I would be teaching literary theory at a university. 

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year? 
I'm OBSESSED with four podcasts: Pivot by Scott Galloway and Kara Swisher (what can I say, my careers been in tech and I'm a geek), The New York Times Daily (there's a reason why it's #1 on all platforms), Still Processing by culture writers Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham (they're Black queer and brilliant) and VIBE CHECK by Sam Sanders, Saeed Jones and Zach Stafford (It's all culture all the time and I disagree with EASILY half of what they say, and I need that!) 

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve? 
Hybrid is here to stay; we're not going back the the old normals of the office. Not even the recession is going to create enough leverage to get employees back into an office under the same circumstances. That genie is out of the bottle. I want to see us evolve to a place where we help employees and their teams really make hybrid work extremely well for as many people as possible — particularly people of color. 

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion? 
The industry can't do it. White women and men who have any modicum of power have to make DEI personal to them. They have to feel some moral thrust to do it. They have to embrace their discomfort with the thought of getting it wrong, and they have to lean into the fact that it will require EXTRA EFFORT. It will be extra work and they have to embrace it without resentment or grudge. They will have to individually and collectively accept that they aren't the experts while simultaneously pursuing more knowledge and empathy. The innovation in that — it's an approach no one has tried!