Dena Cook | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
dena-cook-2019-influence-100

Dena Cook

EVP, Head of Global Communications & PR
Mattel
US

@DenaCook

 

After nearly 15 years with the high-profile media relations shop Brew, Dena Cook joined Mattel earlier this year as its communications chief, reporting into CEO Ynon Kreiz. In this role, Cook oversees all external and internal communications, with primary responsibility for managing and executing on Mattel's corporate communications strategy across global audiences.

In announcing her appointment in March, Kreiz praised Cook for having “successfully developed and driven corporate narratives for partners, built and inspired agile, high-performing teams and executed flawlessly on major initiatives that align with business goals.” He also noted Mattel’s current transformation into an “IP-driven, high-performing toy company.”

Most recently, Cook was CEO of Brew, which was acquired in 2016 by London-based communications consultancy Freud Communications. Prior to joining Brew, Cook had roles at Zeno Group and FleishmanHillard.

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
I was taught early in my career that PR should never be done in a vacuum; it must always ladder to a business objective. Years ago, my team and I created a year-long communications program focused on corporate reputation. The program was very successful externally, improving the ease with which the company was able to conduct business. Equally importantly, the program drove strong internal results as well.

What do you love about this industry?
We get to tell the stories of companies large and small, well-known and up-and-coming. We are the stewards of their reputations. This is an enormous responsibility and a tremendous honor.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
Communications continues to suffer a risk of being narrowcast as focusing on only one part of the functional area, such as product launches. We have an opportunity to drive awareness that communications can be a strategic driver for any company.

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
The art of storytelling is a challenge in today’s time-pressed world. With diminishing attention spans, drilling down to a very simple message and story is essential. It is an opportunity to look at communications through a global lens.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
I love spending time with my family. If i really want to change pace, I play tennis so I really have to tune out the news and emails and focus on the court.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
I love The Daily and I think it is a great lesson in storytelling and a reminder to always be thoughtful about new media and platforms.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
A litigator. I love a good debate.