Joe Salmon | Innovator 25 EMEA 2022

Joe Salmon

Associate Director, People + Purpose
Hill+Knowlton Strategies 


“We need to continuously evolve and push boundaries to break through the noise and capture the attention, hearts, minds and imagination of our audiences."

Ten years ago, internal comms specialist Joe Salmon was heading up BT’s employee engagement campaign for their sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic Games. He took what he describes as a leap of faith to create an internal, viral, global campaign in which all messaging was delivered via a virtual Olympic torch relay. This was a first for the telecoms giant, using informal messaging instead of formal corporate channels and he counts it as one of his most innovative moments. Upon leaving BT in 2019, he led on comms and engagement at another UK institution, the Post Office, for one of the country’s biggest ever digital rollouts.  

Now, with more than two decades of experience under his belt, Salmon leads on internal comms, organisational culture and employee engagement for several of H+K’s global clients. This year, he was elected board director and fellow at the Institute of Internal Communication and acts as a mentor to others in the profession. 

Before joining H+K, Salmon was group internal comms and engagement partner at Inmarsat, supporting the executive team by creating an internal comms narrative and storytelling approach.  
How do you define innovation?
Innovation is stepping away from the 'norm'. It's creating a spark that demands attention, inspires audiences to think, feel, or do something new, and deliveries better outcomes.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
FORD Europe - Very Gay Raptor. Super creative, bold execution, huge impact.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
There are so many brands doing really cool stuff. To name just a few of my favorites: TikTok, Amazon, Netflix, Tesla.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
London 2012 Olympic Games.

I designed, developed and delivered an internal, viral global campaign - where all messaging was delivered to employees by their friends and colleagues via a virtual Olympic Torch Relay. (Torch arrives in your inbox - Read the message - Watch the video - Subscribe for more info - Pass it on).
This was a leap of faith with an informal approach to delivering key messages, without using the corporate formal channels at BT.

The campaign reach, engagement and outcomes were hugely successful and opened the door for more creative ways to communicate to our global audience.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
I've got to go old school - Thomas Edison, he totally changed the game.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I love the great outdoors. Mountain biking while listening to music always does the trick for me.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Innovation is no longer a nice to have, it's the expectation. Consumers, Employees, and Clients expect to be wowed. Over and over again. Standing still and dusting off old plans is not an option. Bringing the fire is what we do now.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
I would love to be a fashion designer. Although don't think I'd be as good at it as I am in communications.

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
The Diary Of A CEO

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
I love the idea of a truly work from anywhere approach. A culture where employees don't associate their work with a location. Instead work is just what they do, wherever they are.
A lot of people enjoyed a blended work/life approach over the past couple of years. We should continue to look forward and be open to what employees want and need to be able to thrive and do their best work.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
PR and communications can have a huge impact, and make more progress on DEI by being brave. It's about having and owning opinions and bringing them to life through compelling storytelling.

We need to deliver creative campaigns and activations that help to facilitate and champion the conversation.