Gabriel Stricker | The Innovator 25 2014 | Holmes Report


The Innovator 25: Gabriel Stricker

Chief communications officer at Twitter since 2012

San Francisco

Influence & Engagement, 15+ years

"Too many companies take the old Bell Labs approach to innovation where you have people in a lab who are tasked to innovate. But real innovation should be baked into every team within an organization."

For being the strategic counselor that CEO Dick Costolo turned to, first, to lead Twitter’s charge towards one billion users; then to build — and execute — on the strategy for Twitter’s bell-ringing moment on the New York Stock Exchange; and now, amid the company’s struggles as a public company, to take over its prized media partnerships as its first chief communications officer. For a refreshingly modest take on a hyped Silicon Valley IPO that shifted the tone from self-congratulatory to humility. And for, even during a highly publicized IPO, acknowledging that communications is not about controlling the world around you.


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?

Lagging the others

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?

Planning & analytics

Who most influences how innovative a brand's marketing/PR is?


How do you define innovation?

Innovation and revolution are close cousins. Innovation, like a revolution, is really a change that’s both dramatic and wide-reaching.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you've seen in the last 12 months?

The work that T-Mobile has done over the past year with its pricing/positioning campaign has been quite refreshing.  John Legere's authenticity and the candor with which they've broken down the competitive options has been remarkable.

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?

I continue to be wowed by the work that GoPro is doing. It’s incredible to see it expand from a hardware company to what’s ostensibly a media empire.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'

Many moons ago, I consulted for the Interactive Digital Software Association on ratings for video games. At the time, one idea was to simply copy the MPAA’s ratings, and I think the outcome we pursued instead (which the ESRB still has in place today) was quite innovative, much more descriptive, and really helpful for parents and kids alike.

Who is your mentor and why?

I’ve been fortunate to have had many mentors. One of my mentors, Eric Poché, was a longtime fixture at Zen Hospice Project in San Francisco, where I volunteered for some time. It's almost impossible to teach just how fleeting and precious life can be, but Eric does about as good a job at that as anyone could.

How do you get inspired?

Jogging. It’s my moving meditation.

Advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?

I think what often gets organizations stuck in their ways is just that: the ways themselves. Too often we focus on process instead of outcomes.  If you step back and come to a common understanding of what you want to accomplish, then the means become much less consequential.

In your opinion, what's the most innovative place in the world? This could be a city, a venue, a neighborhood, etc.

I do have a soft spot for the San Francisco Bay Area. Its history dating way back to the Barbary Coast times (and even before that) has always been one of disruption and innovation. There is a questioning, revolutionary spirit here that’s hard to find elsewhere.

What's your favorite time of day and why?

Sunset. Growing up on the Pacific, I've always found something really poetically beautiful to have the day punctuated by the sun setting beneath the horizon.