Dan Kirby | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2017
Charting the future of public relations

Innovator 25 EMEA - Dan KirbyThe Innovator 25:

Dan Kirby



“Start small, get evidence to show what's working”

An art school drop-out who began his career as a copywriter, Dan Kirby has overseen a string of agency start-ups, including ‘sonic branding’ firm Sonic ID and brand consultancy DKPM. For more than a decade, meanwhile, he has also overseen Techdept, which acts as a “tech special ops” team for clients like World Wildlife Fund, Activision and Microsoft. In this role, Kirby has served a fervent advocate for the convergence of marketing and technology, helping found the Marketing Technology Association and pointing the way to the future of engagement.

How do you define innovation?
Trying stuff out that you haven't done before. 

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?
The new BBC font — Reith. It's designed for digital, and what's more innovative than being able to better read the written word?

What brands and/or agencies are most innovative when it comes to marketing/PR?
Social Chain is a great agency which has innovated by using their own communities and networks to build value. I am really intrigued in the new platforms that disintermediate comms agencies. The agency model is under attack now from influencer platforms that connect brands with people with reach — in effect these people are 21st creative communicators that have proven audience reach.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
The time I cycled around Austin Texas dressed as a psychotic "tech MC" with two half naked Mexican wrestlers — which was all filmed on a 4k cinema grade camera. It was all in the name of 'infotainment' — a movie (no really, a cinema movie pilot) about our event series The Tech Off...watch this space! 

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

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

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

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?

Who is your mentor and why?
Dan Sullivan — I pay him to be.

How do you find inspiration?
I keep my eyes and ears open and pay close attention...

What is your advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?
Making change happen is really hard. Start small, get evidence to show what's working (or not working). This will build momentum, and your confidence. Organisational confidence in your idea will grow in time. 

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?
London. It's a global city with the most amazing music, culture, food, people. New ideas come from colliding into new things you haven't experienced before. ‘Steal from the world’, as Picasso said.

What’s your favourite time of day and why?
The morning. I very much enjoy my first coffee each day!