Stella Low | Influence 100
Charting the future of public relations
stella-low-2019-influence-100

Stella Low

Chief Communications Officer
Cisco
US

@stelow

 

Stella Low joined Cisco in April, taking the helm of the a comms function that had undergone a string of changes and departures, including her predecessor, Oliver Roll.

Low, who is on CEO Chuck Robbins’ executive leadership team, joined Cisco nearly five months after she stepped down from Dell after leading that company’s global communications for more than two years. Before becoming Dell's global communications SVP, she led global communications for EMC (now Dell EMC) for nearly four years, a period that included its $67 billion sale to Dell, the largest tech deal in history at the time.

Low joined Cisco on the heels of the company switching up its PR agency partnerships, most notably consolidating its core global PR business with FleishmanHillard, which was part of the company’s larger goal of making communications more efficient, potentially by adopting a more integrated approach. Welcoming her onboard, Robbins lauded Low “not only because of her breadth of expertise in technology communications, but also for her passion for great storytelling, building strong communities and her inclusive, solutions-oriented approach.”

Can you share a moment in your career when you saw PR's direct impact on business performance?
We did a large product launch a while ago where we made a ton of noise in the market, and we were delighted that we went from a late entrant player in the space to market leader in two quarters. The launch was absolutely central to that success. Also love it when you see PR directly influence stock price.

What do you love about this industry?
I love this industry. I spent 20 years in marketing and the last 10 in comms and in that time it has constantly evolved and changed for the better. Social and digital make what we do so much more immediate and impactful, as well as allowing us to be more creative than ever before. Plus the insights and metrics are getting ever more sophisticated, which allows us to understand our customers and the media landscape so much better than ever before. I only see this getting more exciting with AI and machine learning.

What most frustrates you about this industry?
Nothing. We have so much to be grateful for. It’s an industry that allows us to mix science with art, business strategy with creative thinking. What’s cooler than that?

What are the communications industry's biggest challenges and opportunities?
Our biggest opportunities are continuing to progress new and creative ways to break through the noise, and make meaningful impact. Plus learning to harness new technologies including AI, machine learning and VR and AR that help us achieve our business goals faster and more efficiently. I also think that telling the wider story of purpose beyond profit/product is an opportunity for companies too. We want to bring those stories to life in a way that is compelling to customers and motivating for employees.

How do you relax or change pace when you're not at work?
My family are important to me. We love to travel and try new things. We have a belief that life is really a string of amazing moments and experiences so we try not to stand still for too long.

Can you share a book/movie/TV show/podcast that teaches a valuable lesson about PR?
Every book, movie, podcast and TV show gives us a perspective into the creative process and can spark ideas. That said, I always get inspired by places like Disney or Universal, who take experiential storytelling to a whole new level. Every PR person should go at least once every few years as a reminder that anything is possible... and to push the boundaries.

If I wasn't working in marketing/communications, I would be...
I guess in sales. Sales is also grounded in communications in many ways.