Simon Vericel | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2017
Charting the future of public relations

2017 Innovator 25 AP - Simon VericelThe Innovator 25:

Simon Vericel

Managing Director, Founder

Influence Matters 
Beijing

“The agency can only be innovative if the client accepts innovative ideas”

After leading cross-border influencer engagement work at Racepoint and H+K Strategies in China, Simon Vericel launched his own startup consultancy in 2015 to try and deliver the kind of flexibility and efficiency required by today’s fast growing tech companies. So far, the firm has been shortlisted twice for New Consultancy of the Year, and has demonstrated the kind of integrated mindset that marks it out as an agency to watch. Vericel also serves as co-founder of Le French Tech in Beijing.

How do you define innovation?
Things that have not been done in a certain way before, and will make a difference. 

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?
Samsung giving (almost) carte blanche to influencers, YouTubers mostly, to use their products for promotion. 

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
France became a brand with the French Tech initiative to promote French innovation and startups. The innovation lies in the French government creating a brand (La French Tech) and giving the keys to it to French entrepreneurs around the world. Entrepreneurs know how to make a difference because they have the freedom to try things. Disclaimer, I am a founding member of the Beijing Chapter of the French Tech, and I believe it is one of the best government supported promotion initiative out there. 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
No specific moment. Innovation is a process, not a moment. I strive to serve clients in a way they have never been served in China until Influence Matters was founded. Every days is a challenge to find ways to be different and better than other agencies that focus on tech in China. 

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Influencer relations.

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?
About the same as other marketing disciplines.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Influencer relations.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?
I do not believe it is a single person, but it is always on the brand's side. The agency can only be innovative if the client accepts innovative ideas. 

Who is your mentor and why?
I'm open to recommendations... I'm not very good at listening to advice.

How do you find inspiration?
The news. Inspiration will come from digesting the hundreds of news articles I skim through every day. People also, bouncing ideas with the team and clients always lead to interesting new ideas. Sleepless nights are good for inspiration too. I wrote down the name of the agency, Influence Matters at 3 am.

What is your advice for people seeking to bring new ideas and ways of doing things to their organizations?
Find freedom of thoughts and ideas and be unafraid to bring them to your organization. If your organization rejects new ideas you really believe in, find one that will, or start your own. 

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?
A corner. Backed into a corner, innovative solutions will come up to get out of that corner. 

What’s your favorite time of day and why?
Two moments. The moment I step into the office early in the morning starts opens opportunities. The moment I get home early enough to have dinner with my wife and daughters, reminding me why I have achieved what I have that day, and why we need to be efficient.