Robert Hastings | The Innovator 25 Americas 2017
Charting the future of public relations

2017 Innovator 25 Americas - Robert HastingsThe Innovator 25:

Robert Hastings

EVP, Chief Communications Officer & Chief of Staff
Bell Helicopter
Fort Worth, Texas

“innovate or die!  the only constant in our profession is change.”

Robert Hastings has been an integration innovator across several challenging environments. Early in his career, he managed the rebranding and repositioning of the former British Aerospace Company into BAE Systems during which he led a marketing integration charge. This work was noticed by Washington insiders which led to his appointment by former President George W. Bush to lead all Department of Defense strategic communications activities. There, he led the most significant transformation of Defense Public Affairs in generations, dramatically improving military-media relations and spearheading the formation of DoD’s strategic communications doctrine. Since then, Hastings has been at Bell Helicopter where he deployed his "synchronized one-voice" strategy, reversing the company's trend from 80% negative to 80% positive in less than one year. 

How do you define innovation?
innovation is the process of solving problems - sometimes ones that aren't yet realized - through significant,  thoughtful, informed, positive and deliberate change.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
the use of big data to truly identify, track and target influencers

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Volvo's super bowl interception campaign - a couple years old now - remains one of my favorite

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.'
We completely reorganized corp communications last year in a way that I think is quite innovative - ask me about it!

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation? 
Bob Pearson, W2O group, one of the most innovative guys in the marketing and PR space

How do you get out of a creativity or productivity rut? 
customers, customers, customers - I spend time with the people that use our products .... gets the juices flowing every time!

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
innovate or die!  the only constant in our profession is change.

In your opinion, what's the most innovative place in the world? 
I attended SXSW in Austin for the first time this year, met more innovative people there than I could count - I'm still telling stories...

What's your favorite hobby that's not work-related? 
I fly.....had my first flying experience at 11, started lessons at 14, soloed at 16.  There's nothing better than drilling holes in the sky to clear the head.