Joe McCambley | The Innovator 25
Charting the future of public relations
JoeMcCambleyThe Innovator 25:

Joe McCambley

CEO, Co-Founder, The Wonderfactory
New York City

Content Marketing Strategy, Branded Content conceptualization and development
Recognized for making a career out bringing "wonder" to digital properties by knowing that "How can I help you" nearly always outperforms "What can I sell you?" 

Where does the PR industry need to innovate the most?

Despite the growth and popularity of branded content there are still few things more influential for a brand than an authentic piece of fact-checked, positive journalism created by a trusted media company. By “journalism” I mean articles, TV news reports, radio reports, etc.   Reporters are under siege with little time to actually conduct research and REPORT.   Consumers are under siege with a glut of content, much of it questionable. We’re still looking for people we can trust to help us make sense of the world.  The PR firms that can make it easy for reporters to do their jobs well will prove invaluable, and be more likely to generate positive coverage for their clients. 

How innovative do you think the PR industry currently is?
About the same as other marketing disciplines. Some players in some industries are innovative, and others aren’t. It’s difficult to generalize today and call any industry “innovative.” For instance, the tech industry includes both Blackberry and Apple. The automotive industry includes both Tesla and Chrysler. While we might call the Content Marketing industry innovative, most content marketing today is pretty lame. 

"Created the first banners to appear on the Web in October of 1994. Now trying to atone for that sin (but secretly very proud because it generated a 44% click through for over 6 months)"
What is most important for the PR industry to do to foster more innovation?
Form a new business and instruct it to do work that has never been done. Encourage your new unit to improve upon the status quo, and tell its leader that you will consider him/her successful when he/she has put your old business unit out of business. I know. It’s much easier said than done. But innovation is not about protecting what you have. It’s about inventing what is new.

The most innovative PR/communications campaign in the last 12 months?
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Is there anyone in the US who did not find themself under a bucket of ice water in 2014?

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider to be 'innovative.'
I’m working on a project right now for a large media company. We’re helping them figure out how they can help advertisers create content that drives conversions while at the same time enhancing the publisher’s brand and overall experience. I’m excited about it, because if we can make it work it’ll be a huge win-win for the publisher and the advertiser.

How do you inspire innovation within yourself or to your team? 
Most truly innovative people I’ve met don’t need to be inspired. They need trust, the freedom to invent, and encouragement to stand up to their natural fear of failure. My advice is to hire people who want to improve the world, give each other the benefit of your collective wisdom and experience, learn from each other, and push each other to be better. Innovation is not always a top-down thing.

What’s the most innovative place in the world?
Curiously, if you care about content marketing the most innovative place in the world is not San Francisco, Silicon Valley, or Silicon Alley. It’s Cleveland. 

Cleveland is the home of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), who are some of the smartest and most giving people in the world where content marketing are concerned. If you are involved in content marketing today, you should follow CMI and their founder, Joe Pulizzi.

One of the things I love most about CMI is that many of their influencers have been in and around content marketing for years, meaning they’ve made, and learned from, their mistakes. The ways in which CMI employs helpful, useful content to build their business serves as a great example for us all.

What's your favorite time of day?
It doesn’t happen often enough, but every now and then I’ll run with my daughter at dawn. We time our run so that the sun is peeking over the eastern horizon as we round a bend at a nearby beach. Despite the fact that I know she’s a little annoyed at my slow pace, I always think to myself that I must be the happiest person in the world at that moment.