Michelle Giuda | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Michelle Giuda

Krach Institute for Tech Diplomacy at Purdue

Washington, D.C.

“If there was ever a time for bold ideas, solutions and innovation, it’s now."

From the State Department to Weber Shandwick, the expertise Michelle Guida has gained in geopolitical risk is not only a rare skillset, it’s proving an asset to brands – which are at the crosshairs of geopolitics in today’s era of global competition and conflict, whether they are prepared for it or not.

Displaying incredible foresight, Michelle studied how global companies are preparing for a new geopolitical era a full year before the war in Ukraine. Her In2SABRE-winning, 12-country study was the first to identify a new player in the stakeholder capitalism conversation – the home country. The insights from her report shaped Weber Shandwick’s geopolitical strategy and risk practice, which provides clients with intelligence and analytics, strategy and planning, and implementation and management as they prepare for and respond to global conflicts. In creating the practice, Guida has helped evolve the capabilities of a PR agency to a true communications and consulting agency, providing counsel for clients navigating rapidly evolving global relations and issues. A former US Assistant Secretary of State for Global Public Affairs and deputy press secretary for former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, this year Guida appeared in AdAge’s 40 under 40 list. 

How do you define innovation?
Solving new challenges and seizing new opportunities with new solutions.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
The information campaign that President Zelenskyy and his government have waged throughout the war, in order to remain top of mind and garner diplomatic and military support from partners and allies.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Weber Shandwick, of course!

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
I was very proud in 2019 to have led and executed with my team the largest restructuring at the State Department in twenty years in order to modernize how we conduct Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs globally. We met the moment as the geopolitical and communications technology landscape became dramatically more complex.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and all of the unheralded innovators in both government and private sector shaping new frontiers in space.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Step away from the problem, go for a run, and return later with a fresh perspective.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
We've just been through an unprecedented global pandemic. We're witnessing Russia wage war in Ukraine. If there was ever a time for bold ideas, solutions and innovation, it's now.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
"Jocko Podcast" with former Navy SEAL Jocko Wilink

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
Deep, meaningful connections and productive work both remote and in-person. I think we're all headed in a positive direction there.