Janice Kapner | The Innovator 25 2016
Charting the future of public relations
Janice KapnerThe Innovator 25:

Janice Kapner    

SVP/Corporate communications 

T-Mobile  

 

"Innovation means challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries."

 

In 2016, the Holmes Report recognized T-Mobile as its Company of the Year in North America for its Un-carrier Approach that has resulted in the mobile carrier gaining significant marketshare. For Kapner that has meant an aggressive marketing strategy, pushing out campaigns that gives the challenger brand as much – if not more — share of voice as its top rivals with heftier budgets. Among the notable initiatives are, Binge On at Un-carrier X, an earnings call drinking game, two April Fools' Day campaigns and trolling rivals' campaigns.


Describe what you do.
Leading, growing and working with the best corporate communications team in the business!

Where are you from/hometown?
Bay Area, CA

Where are you based now?
Seattle area

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Social Media & Community Management. Social is an entirely new dynamic in a 24 hour news climate. It offers an opportunity to engage with media and with customers directly.  Share news, share stories and educate participants. It is a unique opportunity for companies / senior management to engage with customers directly and in real time – which is key for any competitive company in today’s world.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation?
More innovative then other marketing disciplines. Things in the PR industry have changed so much in the last 5 years, with social media platforms that are ever changing and of course the 24/7 news cycle, teams either innovate or become irrelevant. It is noisy and busy out there. It can be tough to be heard! This requires companies to respond incredibly quickly and to be more agile, smart and creative in the way they engage audiences. There is a ton of upside to communicating directly and quickly, but you have to be focused and aware – because people who use social media are not looking for fluff. They want real info. from real people and the press is always watching what happens in the social sphere.

What is most important for the PR industry to do to foster more innovation?
New hiring practices/criteria

How do you define innovation?
Innovation means challenging the status quo and pushing the boundaries. At T-Mobile that means we take risks and we’re always willing to do things the other guys won’t. Try it and learn. Sometimes you succeed, sometimes you fail – but if you don’t try and experiment, you will be stuck in the status quo while others race right past you.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you've seen in the last 12 months?
Campaigns like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge / #LikeAGirl campaigns have been particularly impressive for their sheer reach and they demonstrate the power of social media in PR today.  More recently the #22PushUpChallenge to honor those who serve has also been inspirational and seems to be growing.  On the more traditional side of things, I thought REI’s #OptOutside campaign was particularly powerful and extremely well executed – it was a bold idea and it really worked!

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
I think companies like AirBnB and Dove have had great success on social media, with some incredibly inspiring campaigns (Dove’s “Choose Beautiful” campaign) which show that they really understand their consumers and are adapting to the changes in the industry.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
Since arriving at T-Mobile, there have been so many times when my team and I have had the chance to really disrupt the competition and question the tried and tested methods. From competitive sky writing, to earnings social drinking games, to caption contests and hijacking news cycles, we’ve had so many opportunities to innovate / disrupt, which is what keeps the brand – and my job – exciting. I’m lucky to do the work I do and I love working with a team that is so creative that we really don’t even have time to execute on all the fantastic ideas they come up with!

Something — not PR/marketing related — that is innovative.
That’s easy. The Smartphone is amazing. Or tablets that allow you to do business from virtually anywhere. The Tech industry in general is extremely innovative – the opportunities and possibilities we see coming from companies like Tesla, Google are really exciting and it’s fascinating to watch what’s going on. I’ve been in “tech” my entire career. I’m a bit of a gadget geek and I love the new capabilities that come out with new devices every year. Wearables are starting to get really interesting now too!

Please give our readers an idea of something that can inspire innovation — this can be a book/movie/podcast/activity/article.
For me, it would be something that doesn’t involve tech – whether that’s hiking, playing with our dogs or traveling the world – it’s an opportunity to switch off and give your brain some time to decompress (think about other things) and see what is going on in the world (vs. via a news feed or in my office) – that’s when the ideas often start flowing and you get the energy you need to come back and make them happen!

Least favorite time of day?
Early Morning – in the comms world that is often the busiest time of day and sometimes news breaks that means the day is blown apart before I even start my commute. I’m a night owl and always have been. I can focus and get stuff done!

Most innovative place in the world? This could be a city, a venue, a neighborhood, etc.
Having lived in both the Bay Area and Seattle area, I’ve been fortunate to experience two of the most innovative cities in the world. Both have their differences but it’s great to be surrounded by so many ambitious and creative companies.

#FirstSevenJobs
McDonalds for the Summer!, Receptionist for Tech Startup, Marketing Coordinator, Product Manager, Event Manager,  Marketing Communications & Advertising Manager and Communications lead!