Mark Webb | Innovator 25 EMEA 2022

Mark Webb

Shift MS


“Innovation is tough but worth it. For your brand and your career.” 

Until his recent medical retirement, disability advocate Mark Webb was head of communications for, a social network for people with multiple sclerosis, and is now an ambassador for the organisation. Until and beyond his own diagnosis of relapsing MS in 2007 – a chronic, progressive illness impacting the central nervous system – Webb had a successful career in international PR and communications, notably with Disney, David Lloyd Leisure and electrical retailer Dixons (now Currys), where he worked for 12 years, latterly as head of group social media, until his further diagnosis of secondary progressive MS in 2018. Webb has become one of the PR industry’s few visible wheelchair-using professionals and campaigners around disability, especially the importance of factoring disability into diversity commitments. An inspiring, thought-provoking and humorous conference speaker, Webb is a leader of the PRCA’s Equity & Inclusion Advisory Council and an influencer for the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Never one to let his diagnosis hold him back despite the physical challenges, Webb plays wheelchair rugby for the Bournemouth Lions team, blogs at and is also writing a book about his experiences (albeit, in his own words, “slowly”.) 
How do you define innovation?
Crucial. Disruptive. Original. If I see one more thing float down the Thames I'll scream...

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
LEGO bricks in braille. Brilliant and inclusive...

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Reflect, a year-old part of The River Group. The first not-for-profit diverse influencer agency. Much needed!

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
When push came to shove with my career and progressive illness. Dixons could easily have made me redundant with a 'guilty cheque' or made me 'Chief photocopier'.

Instead we sat down and carved out a new role that worked for both me and the company. Result, "Head of Group (ie corporate) social media. Our CEO became the most followed CEO on the FTSE100.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
I have a love/hate relationship with Elon Musk. His political views and his treatment of his staff? Poor. His manipulation of the market, social media, new product? Brilliant!

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
A complete break before piling back in. Down tools.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
It's tough but worth it. For your brand and your career. Come up with the next ice Bucket Challenge and you can dine off it for years...

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
The oldest international rugby player on record

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
Top Gun - Maverick. Life in the old dog and the last century yet.

How would you like to see work culture, and the role of the office, evolve?
I would say this, but to see 'inclusivity' moved from tickbox to reality. There's clear evidence that a diverse workforce is more productive. And by the way it'll better reflect your customer base....

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
By owning it at CEO/Board level. Not just by appointing a D&I manager and assuming everything will flow from there.