Steve Cody | The Innovator 25 North America 2022

Steve Cody


New York

“Complacency kills and unless a brand is consistently anticipating trends and providing solutions to fill an emerging need, it will wither on the vine and die.”

Steve Cody’s success has been underpinned by his ability to make big-league executives laugh – which is not only a tough nut to crack itself but also deeper than it may seem. A true believer in the power of humor, the Peppercomm founder and CEO has infused comedy into the many facets of his business, workshops training executives merge humor with leadership and brainstorming sessions with clients among them. His fervent commitment to keeping things light led him to set up the Laughing Matter Council, a team dedicated to showing the vital role humor can play in the business world by bridging gaps, opening people up to seeing things differently and connecting with others who have challenging opinions. The new book Cody co-authored on the subject, 'The ROI of LOL,' is a testament to the value of his approach, which was a factor in Ruder Finn buying Peppercomm last year. Experience (and research) shows that having clients participate in the likes of improved their senses of trust and teamwork and gained the confidence to speak up. 

How do you define innovation?
Looking around the corner to identify and fill needs that will benefit our agency, our clients and the world at large.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
Dole’s Malnutrition campaign.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Dole, Trivago, Allstate.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
The day I introduced stand-up and improvisational comedy training to our agency (and to many client organizations). We also tie it in to our charitable gift giving. Comedy, humor and laughter is embedded in our culture and has played a huge part in our extremely low turnover rate, high employee satisfaction levels and winning countless workplace/culture awards.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?
Rupen Desai of Dole, Karen Davis of Xero and Linda Rutherford of Southwest Airlines.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Mountain climbing. I climb at least every quarter snd find it opens my mind yo creative ways to address the ever-changing marketplace needs.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Innovate or die. Complacency kills and unless a brand is constantly anticipating trends and providing solutions to fill an emerging need, it will wither on the vine and die.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Guiding others trying to reach the summit in their personal or professional lives..

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
'Smart Brevity', 'Poverty, Why?' and 'The Wager'.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
Make it a priority to reflect the population at large. If your organization doesn't reflect the ever-changing population, how can you possible understand their wants and needs. DEI/diversity is a must for any organization seeking to stay one step ahead of the competition.