Alexander Jutkowitz | The Innovator 25
Charting the future of public relations
alexander_jukowitzThe Innovator 25:

Alexander
Jutkowitz

CEO, Group SJR, Truffle Pig, Colloquial - New York

Recognized for not only seeing the content opportunity years ago, but solidly delivering on this for clients like GE. And for moving that vision forward with ventures like Truffle Pig. 





Where does the PR industry need to innovate the most?
Creative storytelling & Content creation. Today’s audiences crave personal connections. They don’t just want to buy goods and services because they’re effective and useful – they want to know the origin stories behind both companies and products. The same holds true for individual people – a person’s message must have context in an overall narrative arc. Telling these stories in creative ways, with as much attention to the visual vocabulary as the text, is key to developing a lasting relationship with an audience. And at a time when trust is currency, relationships, rather than one-off gimmicks, really are what matters.

How innovative do you think the PR industry currently is?
Lagging other marketing disciplines. 

The most innovative PR/communications campaign in the last 12 months?
I thought Under Armour’s “I Will What I Want” campaign did brilliant work in turning the idea of celebrity spokesperson on its head. The signature moment in that campaign, a video that showed Gisele Bündchen beating the daylights out of a heavy bag as sexist, denigrating real-life comments about the company choosing her as its new spokesperson flashed on the wall behind her, resonated with women everywhere and showed that the company’s tough- guy image applies to tough girls, too. 

The campaign was flawlessly coordinated across multiple social platforms and a content hub on the corporate website that features videos and photos of inspirational female athletes and trainers – pros or not. This campaign reflected a larger conversation in society about celebrating strong, powerful women without being condescending or inauthentic.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be 'innovative.'
When I went to TED for the first time, I met GE Chief Marketing Officer Beth Comstock. On a rather fateful walk around Long Beach, California, she mentioned that the company had a website called GE Reports that was a great repository of knowledge, but not quite accessible enough to really engage outside audiences in the right way. That’s when I really started to think about the wealth of institutional knowledge that businesses and other organizations have locked in file cabinets and hard drives around the country. What if we could help them share that knowledge with the public? Not only would it burnish their credentials as thought leaders and experts in their respective fields, it would also help build real relationships with potential customers. That moment was when we really started to build Group SJR into a pioneer in what we all now know as content marketing.

How do you inspire innovation within yourself or to your team? 
When you’re successful at something, it’s easy to keep repeating yourself over and over again – that’s as true for businesses as it is for individual people. What I’ve tried to instill in the people I work with is that we can never stop moving. We can’t stop to pat ourselves on the back for doing something groundbreaking, because that’s time we could be spending thinking about what’s next. 

That’s part of the reason for starting Truffle Pig, our partnership with Snapchat, Elite Daily, and the Daily Mail. We think working in new mediums and new partnerships will inevitably bring fresh thinking to content creation. I also think it’s important to create an environment where big, off-the-wall ideas are welcome. But that’s not enough. So many ideas get stuck in the talking phase, beaten to death by endless meetings. Forget meetings. You can’t plan every detail ahead of time, or you’ll never do anything. I encourage people to just dive in and turn their big ideas into reality.

What’s the most innovative place in the world?
I would argue that places – in the sense of physical locations – don’t matter anymore. It’s a cliché that happens to be true – we’re all so interconnected now that innovation often occurs in distributed networks, rather than concentrated hubs. But in the broader meaning of the word “place,” I think the intersection of content and data is the most innovative address in the world right now. Whether you’re talking about how businesses of all kinds are using Big Data to analyze performance and customer information, or the way content producers of all kinds are finding new ways to create interactive data visualizations, finding ways to make the huge pile of information at our disposal digestible is the fundamental challenge of this age. And that’s where innovation is concentrated, too.

What's your favorite time of day?
I prefer mornings, before the ever-expanding daily to- do list gathers into a swell. Mornings are when anything seems possible – and actually, when your head is clear, a lot more is possible.