Julia Petryk | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2023

Julia Petryk

Head of PR



“Adopt innovation widely – but don’t forget that PR is driven by human relationships.” 

Julia Petryk is a truly inspirational communications professional. She is a community builder, networker and educator who is not only head of public relations for Kyiv-headquartered tech company MacPaw, but the co-founder and leader of the PR Army. This dynamic, non-profit organisation of communications professionals was created in the first hours after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 to fight Russian disinformation and to elevate Ukrainian voices. The community was quickly able to connect journalists to people on the ground: a powerful way of linking news outlets with reliable sources, and of spreading the truth about the Russian invasion out there in a time of crisis. The PR Army is now made up of more than 300+ volunteers and 12 coordinators of different focus areas, from tracking and tackling Russian propaganda, to demanding economic sanctions, oil-gas embargo and trade with Russia, showcasing the consequences of the war on global food supply, and advocating the values, culture and history of Ukraine. An advocacy campaign conducted on behalf of the PR Army by Plus Communications took home the platinum SABRE award at PRovoke Media’s North American SABRE awards this year. And Petryk’s focus on the PR Army has not diminished her leadership at MacPaw, where she is a mentor for the whole team, supporting and inspiring them them to grow as professionals even in the most challenging times.

How do you define innovation?
New ways of doing dull tasks.

What is the most innovative PR or marketing initiative you've seen over the past 12 months?
Definitely AI expansion.

In your opinion, which brands and/or agencies are most innovative in their approach to PR and marketing?
Big brands who have resources capacity (budget and human resources).

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be innovative.
The moment when the PR Army was created a lot of challenges arose, from building processes in a not-profit volunteer organisation and comms coordination to automation of PR tasks: media outreach, search of experts and narratives research. Without innovation, we wouldn’t cope!

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
The dev teams behind PR tools at CARMA, Signal and Determ.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
My fuel is a dream to see Ukraine liberated and peaceful. It helps a lot to find energy for creativity.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
Adopt innovation widely – but don’t forget that PR is driven by human relationships.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
Bringing up kids, many kids!

Which book/movie/TV show/podcast/playlist/other cultural source has provided inspiration over the past year?
The ‘Explore vs Exploit’ mental framework, and Marc Whitt’s book, ‘When in Doubt, Make Applesauce!’ for PR pros and leaders in any sphere.

How can the PR and communications industry harness innovation to make more progress on diversity, equity and inclusion?
By leading the movement.