Jenni Holladay | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Jenni Holladay

EVP, Marketing
Method Communications

Salt Lake City, UT

“Innovation in marketing is about surprise and delight, telling stories in unexpected ways and sometimes in unexpected places."

When Jenni Holladay joined Method Communications in 2018, the agency was already an award-winning PR-first shop, but the vision was to reach the next phase as an integrated PR and marketing agency. With a mandate to build on the agency’s foundation by expanding it’s capabilities strategically, Holladay set about expanding Method’s services which today include in-house market research, social media, digital media, marketing strategy, brand and message development, influencer marketing and a full content, creative and production team. The impact in real terms has been a 58% growth in Method’s marketing services revenue, representing 14% of the agency’s total revenue. In the last nine months, Holladay landed one of the agency’s biggest accounts, a Fortune Forty client in the network communications industry. 

Through innovative thinking, Holladay has reimagined how marketing can organically integrate into a PR agency. Her vision has resulted in a 300% increase in revenue over the past four years, in a division that was previously relatively flat.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Holladay herself says embracing integrated comms is essential to innovation.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation in marketing is about surprise and delight, telling stories in unexpected ways and sometimes in unexpected places. Capturing attention is challenging today, especially when there is so too much pining for our attention. Innovation in communications happens when we are forced to do things differently...when we are able to successfully surprise audiences with something creative, something helpful--like sharing an insight, asking a thought provoking question or knocking their socks off with really strong content/creative.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
It is easy for B2C brands to capture the spotlight but the most innovative campaigns I’ve seen are those of B2B Tech brands — The risk-takers that break away from the safety of boring and expected “professional business content.” These brands lean into human connection, leveraging the same creative energy that B2C brands effectively embrace. I love seeing tech and B2B brands behave in more personalized ways, building a human connection that is genuine, transparent, and presented in interesting and engaging ways. Taking a B2C approach to B2B breaks through the clutter. It leaves a lasting impression.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
The pandemic brought about a digital revolution that pushed brands to explore new territories. In 2022 with most of the world back to some resemblance of normal, the campaigns that standing out use innovative tech to bring together both virtual and physical worlds.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
When I feel as though I'm in a creativity rut, I seek inspiration from new channels -- social media, art and culture. I also value creative ideation sessions. I enjoy collaborating with others, hearing unique POVs, and riffing off of each other's ideas.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
I think we've got to embrace creativity and embrace integrated communications. I routinely see PR and Marketing leaders working in silos, without shared goals and shared responsibilities. I have found that organizations that subscribe to an integrated playbook and together drive the best results and have the biggest impact.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I've always loved marketing but if I were doing anything else, I'd be an entrepreneur.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
I love to listen to podcasts while I’m multitasking and Pivot is one of my favorites —  I enjoy their humor but it also helps me stay abreast of market trends and tech news.

Brene Brown's new book Atlas of the Heart has been a good source of inspiration as it pertains to connection — connecting with my team, connecting with clients, and connecting with customers. As professional communicators, we rely on the power of storytelling to evoke emotion and trigger action but this requires tapping into the human truths within our work.

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
Having a distributed workforce is the way to succeed, thrive, and offer employees the flexibility they desire. This is the "office of the future". Collaboration tools have made it easier for teams to effectively communicate and continue to be productive. Offices will always have an important role but that is changing for both agencies and clients — especially in Tech. Organizations that embrace this shift and build cultures less reliant on people being physically present in an office are more equipt to thrive in this new and evolved work climate.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Innovation in recruiting practices is necessary to create a more diverse workforce--this includes leaning into hiring remote workers to find talent in new markets.