Krista Webster | The Innovator 25 Americas 2017
Charting the future of public relations

2017 Innovator 25 Americas - Krista WebsterThe Innovator 25:

Krista Webster

CEO/President 
Veritas
Toronto 

“Don’t just embrace innovation, charge full-force toward it.”

The MDC-owned Veritas has built its modern reputation with a focus on 'influencing the influencers' and drawing on a 'custom convergence' model that brings together cross-functional teams and multichannel solutions — both which have thrived under Webster's leadership. She has transformed Veritas into a credible creative contender with standout work like ''Bring Back the Bees" work for Honey Nut Cheerios that blends word-of-mouth and influencer marketing to deliver real business results and win numerous awards.

How do you define innovation?
Innovation is when you’re told something is impossible and find a way to do it anyway.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Forgive the #humblebrag but the work our agency has done with General Mills Canada on the Honey Nut Cheerios Bring Back the Bees program over the last two years is incredibly innovative, authentic and engaging marketing. The brand started a movement to bring us back to basics, to bring us back to planting and growing, and to ultimately bring back the bees. Innovation is simply a way to approach something differently – and the brand’s approach to mitigating a global crisis by humbly appealing to the best in all of us, was innovation in its most pure form.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
I love the disruptors – Netflix, Airbnb, and Lyft to name a few. These companies were born of the need to challenge the status quo and that’s meant that they have approached everything, including their marketing and PR, with unapologetic gusto.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
Every day in the role of CEO, I am innovating to solve problems.  From my clients’ issues and business opportunities, to whether new employees have the proper onboarding, every approach should be distinctly creative and stand out as different and creatively inspiring or clever.  Sometimes that means simply adding personal touches that so often go forgotten like a hand written welcome note. Other times, it is about pushing clients and teams well beyond their comfort zone into creative territories they never imagined.  Personally, unless I approach every aspect of my job as an opportunity to innovate, boredom would seep in, and that is just not an option for me.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
I admire Tina Brown, the former editor-in-chief or Vanity Fair, award-winning journalist, editor, author and CEO of her own company, Tina Brown Live Media TBLM most recently hatched the Women in the World Summit which convenes extraordinary leaders like Meryl Streep, Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie and political change makers like Hilary Clinton and Christine Lagarde to improve the lives of girls and women. Tina is a person who has reinvented herself many times over the year on her own terms, and in spite of having immense access to stars, information and the limelight in general, is still incredibly unfazed by fame, humble and authentic in her approach and still open to feedback and making mistakes all along the way.  She is a true inspiration and I feel lucky to have worked with her on some of her events.

How do you get out of a creativity or productivity rut? 
Creativity isn’t on demand. As a life-long agency person, I’ve spent countless hours inspiring my team and my clients but I’ve also needed to make sure that I continue to inspire myself. I’ve found it’s all about taking the moments to recharge, reset and really see the world around me – so I catch an art show, head to my tiny beach cottage or catch up on that guilty pleasure that, no, I’m not going to tell you about.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
We’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do. Don’t just embrace innovation, charge full-force toward it.

In your opinion, what's the most innovative place in the world?
Some of the most innovative places in the world are in our schools – and not just our colleges and universities. Schools are where talented minds are nurtured and encouraged without being tempered by the ‘limits’ of what’s possible.

What's your favorite hobby that's not work-related? 
As professionals, we spend so much of our time strategizing, ideating and planning but you can’t underestimate the value of ’getting your hands dirty’ and physically creating something. Some of my favourite outlets are painting, piano, and interior design because I get to create and enjoy.  And I have never met a glue gun I didn’t like.