Jimmie Stone | The Innovator 25
Charting the future of public relations
Jimmie_stoneThe Innovator 25:

Jimmie Stone

EVP, Executive Creative Director, Edelman
New York

Creative Services
Recognized for his work in purpose branding, in particular understanding that "brands have to uncover and communicate their true purpose and how they are advancing society forward in order to sell more products."



Where does the PR industry need to innovate the most?
Creative storytelling & Content creation. Audiences today are bombarded by content, not only the quantity but the also the ways to consume it has exponentially increased. The communication marketing industry is now fighting for their attention, in a ever evolving, crowded, noisy and diffracted environment.  The PR industry is by far better positioned to capitalize in this new communication environmental chaos.

We need to quantum leap our abilities to conceive, articulate and visualize meaningful and memorable stories, delivering them in new and ingenious ways in order to resonate with our audiences. The only constant is change, technology is in flux, audience archetypes are in flux, media outlets are in flux, we need to build a creative network porous enough to absorb and influence this flux.

How innovative do you think the PR industry currently is?
More innovative than other marketing disciplines. Our industry is generally aware of the potential opportunity of  the uncharted path ahead. However, not every agency has the independence to take advantage of it. The entrepreneurial spirt at Edelman is like nothing I have experienced before, we are not only leaning into this opportunity we are doing so with a long vision and high aspirations.

 We are taking a leadership position that we think and feel will elevate our industry to where it naturally deserves to be, at the center of our client's storytelling stewardship. Today everything starts and ends with an earn centric idea that engages audiences in a conversation. That is what this industry has always done, we just need to be better in creating the vehicles in which the story travels. 

What is most important for the PR industry to do to foster more innovation? 
Like in any great photoshop retouching work, the more subtle and varied the number of filters the better the quality of the finished product. To evolve the industry we need to create a culture and mindset that everything is interrelated and interconnected to everything else.

We need to make many small changes at the same time and connect them together by testing and prototyping. a culture of failing fast and often, but returning again and applying the learnings. It is not wise to try to boil the ocean, this is a marathon not a sprint. It is okay to be uncomfortable with the fact that we will never arrive to a perfect stage, because if we did, I am sure it would be a very boring place. 

The most innovative PR/communications campaign in the last 12 months
Many interesting campaigns are emerging. Simple earn centric and social by design ideas are leading the charts. One that comes to mind is the "The Tweeting Pothole." The agency teamed up with a local news show to create motion-sensitive gadgets that send out signals when they’re run over by cars. They placed these gadgets in some of the city’s worst potholes.

The signals from the gadgets are turned into tweets—some prewritten, some created on the fly by an ad agency employee—sent to the Twitter account of Panama’s Ministry of Public Works. It got the attention of the minister of public works, who appeared on the TV station to address the issue, which he blamed on a mix of poor construction and the failure of talks to approve money to fix the roads. These types of PR centric ideas are coming from any agency and that is what we need to advance.

Our ability to visualize them gives us the opportunity to be in our clients mind when the brief is out. We, the PR industry have the machine to maintain and orchestrate  the conversation for an extended period of time, that is our advantage. We know that maintaining  the buzz alive is what allows the message to sink in our audiences consciousness, changing behaviors and advancing society forward.

Brands or agency with the most innovative approach to communications
Well, what can I tell you?.... I believe Edelman has the independence necessary to maintain the culture of innovation and what I have experienced first hand in the past few years has convinced me that I am part of the biggest and most global innovative agency.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be 'innovative.'
Everyday, I breath and think, "shit I am still alive now what?"

How do you inspire innovation within yourself or to your team? 
I follow the idea of one of my mentors Yvon Chouinard (Patagonia's founder);  "Let my people go surfing". Creating an environment where people follow the path of least resistance to achieve their aspirations. A culture of creativity and purpose, where trying is encouraged by taking the fear out of failing. 

In your opinion, what's the most innovative place in the world?
Inside everyone's restless minds.