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For taking Hyatt beyond social media into social business by developing a digital strategy that takes into consideration — not just content — but also consumer behavior and the offline experience. For recognizing the long-term payoff when brands use social media to amplify offline experiences, rather than simply to resolve complaints. And for knowing videos are not just about the about number of views but a certain immersive experience — which can be far more powerful than TV ads, social media snippets and press releases.
In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Social media & online marketing
How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?
About the same as other marketing disciplines
Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Social media & online marketing
Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?
How do you define innovation?
Innovation, to me, is simply finding better ways of doing things. At Hyatt, empathetic listening fuels our innovation efforts. We believe when you throw your assumptions out the window and start by opening your ears, you’ll understand your guests’ needs and do a better job of meeting them. This might mean creating something new, but it can also mean iterating on something that exists. I believe some of the more impactful innovations are simply improving things for the better.
Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?
As a digital guy, I lean naturally toward recent digital and interactive efforts. As an avid soccer fan, two interactive video efforts around the World Cup really grabbed my attention: this Brazuca video from Adidas, and this video from Pepsi. I love both, but I think Pepsi really nailed it. According to production company behind this, the video’s completion rate was 250% – meaning that the average person watched this video 2.5 times, due to the interactive & gamification elements. Beyond campaigns, I’m inspired by brands who bring some form of utility to their customers through digital, be it empowering them, enlightening them or just caring for them. This extends beyond what we would traditionally consider a campaign, but these experiences can be just as meaningful (it not more so) – I think KLM does this very well, Zappos are obviously highly regarded in this area, and we at Hyatt have made strong strides into this area over the last 12 months as well.
Even if you create a video and there are 10k who organically watch it – it’s such an immersive experience compared to a banner ad or a press release or even a Facebook post.
What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
Hyatt works with a number of fantastic marketing, digital and public relations agencies, all of which do some really great work for us and other clients in their various areas of expertise. But as client side guy, I’ll offer a few brands who regularly impress me in various areas of marketing: J. Crew does a fantastic job of driving digital direct response; Nike does a great job of creating marketing efforts that provide utility to their customers; Coca-Cola makes consistently amazing content; and Ikea seems to continually create amazing digital experiences, most recently with an Instagram digital magazine.
Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
I think the work we’re doing at Hyatt to use social as an extension of how we care for our guests and drive business goals is particularly innovative. For us, social is a way to build meaningful connections, and this has given us a focus, a strategy and clear business objectives with which to work toward. Sometimes innovation can be related to processes or frameworks, and I certainly think we’ve made huge strides in this area over the last 18 months. One of the biggest strides which has been driven by this work is what we’ve done with customer care on our social platforms. We’re recognized as an industry leader here after the work that a large group of us have put in place over the last year or so.
Who is your mentor and why?
My (almost) four-year-old son, Finn, offers me so much life perspective. His ability to make new and interesting connections between unrelated concepts, the fearlessness with which he approaches tasks, and the speed with which he “jumps back on the horse” after falling down are so inspiring to me. He also has a habit of repeating motivational sayings, which I assume he is learning at school, at incredibly appropriate times. Recently, he told me, “Never give up, Daddy,” when I couldn’t find my vitamins.
How do you get inspired?
I have made a habit of curiosity and pondering. I like to explore new places and ideas – both digitally and in the real world – while constantly thinking about current problems or opportunities. I don’t find ideas “hit me” so much as they just seem to mentally grow, until it feels like they have just always been there. At work, the global social team at Hyatt constantly inspires me, pushing me to think better and bigger. Whether it’s a new platform, a new use for an old platform or a way of measuring results, their passion, enthusiasm and smarts keeps me on my toes! The hotels too are a constant source of inspiration. They are connecting with our guests every day so are closely aligned with needs and what’s happening now!
Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?
Be transparent. Too many people sit on their ideas until they are ready to bring them to life. When you have an idea, talk about it with people. Not only will they offer feedback, they will likely offer to help and serve as motivation to push the idea forward. Be open around the theory behind your ideas, and be sure they connect with existing company strategies so you avoid one-off efforts that don’t drive shared business goals.
In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world? This could be a city, a venue, a neighborhood, etc.
I think innovation is a mindset, so I’d say it’s anywhere where a diverse group of open-minded people gather. Some of the places that work best for me are locations that are naturally diverse and where you can observe people’s behaviors. Bars, neighborhoods, flights and hotel lobbies all work well for me personally. The people matter so much more than the place.
What’s your favorite time of day and why?
I’ve started biking to work this year, and the morning ride is certainly one of my favorite times of the day. I enjoy cruising past traffic while disconnected from my phone with the mental and physical activity. I find it a great start to the day. Especially when the sun is shining!
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