Kate Joynes-Burgess | The Innovator 25 EMEA 2017
Charting the future of public relations

Innovator 25 EMEA - Kate Joynes-BurgessThe Innovator 25:

Kate Joynes-Burgess

Head of Digital & Integrated Marketing UK & EMEA

Cohn & Wolfe
London

“Remember that it's important to develop your skills as a consensus builder if you want to be a trailblazer”

An experienced digital communications professional specialising in social media, content strategy and multi-market integration, Kate Joynes-Burgess leads a diverse team of digital, social and content specialists for Cohn & Wolfe in the UK and across Europe, helping to develop eye-catching work for the likes of Pfizer, Maserati and Barclaycard. In particular, Joynes-Burgess has showcased a flair for combining creative technology with design and build, steering Cohn & Wolfe into one the region’s better digital marketing firms. A deep believer in the role of technology for good, Joynes-Burgess also serves as a business ambassador for charity, Virtual Doctors, which leverages mobile tech to save lives in rural Zambia. 

How do you define innovation?
There is a restless quality to innovation — it's where the magic happens by harnessing new technology, getting under the skin of evolving human behaviour while maintaining an instinctive ability to recognise universal truths that power the most impactful campaigns.

Most innovative PR/comms campaign you’ve seen in the last 12 months?
We're really proud of The Swedish Number, led by our colleagues at Cohn & Wolfe Sweden, and the impact it's had across the industry. The campaign to Call a Swede was both playful and powerful in its simplicity — shifting perceptions of Sweden by giving potential visitors the chance to chat on the phone with a random citizen of the country that’s open, free, and fun. Call a Swede became so popular that even President Obama was talking about it. 

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider ‘innovative.’
Driving forward a world-first artificial intelligence project within the highly regulated pharmaceutical industry, in partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, to enable people to better understand their asthma symptoms and inspire them to seek help from their doctor.

In what area of marketing/PR do you see the most innovation?
Data driven content & creative

How would you describe the communications/PR industry’s level of innovation?
More authentic, audience-led innovation than other disciplines.

Where do you see the greatest opportunity for marketing & PR to become more innovative?
Planning & analytics — triangulating online and offline data to drive highly tailored, creative campaigns across multiple touch points.

Who most influences how innovative a brand’s marketing/PR is?
Communications/PR agency in partnership with the C-Suite

Who is your mentor and why?
I'm lucky to count on two mentors. Firstly, our chief innovation officer, Chad Latz, thanks to his unique ability to draw inspiration from non-obvious sources — from both the worlds of the arts and technology — and his talent for inspiring self-belief in his team. Secondly, I consider Dr Fran Fieldhouse, medical director of health-tech charity Virtual Doctors (for which I'm a business ambassador), a mentor due to her impressive energy, unabashed honesty and personal drive to keep doing more to make a difference.

How do you find inspiration?
For me it's absolutely essential to spend time outdoors and get closer to nature to find balance and inspiration. We foster a culture of curiosity to encourage each and every one of us to find what it is that personally inspires us — whether going to an exhibition, finding a quiet place to think (I love the British Library) or taking time with colleagues to mull over creative challenges and reach a breakthrough together (pizza and beer can help too!).

What is your advice for people seeking to bring new ideas, ways of doing things to their organizations?
Remember that it's important to develop your skills as a consensus builder if you want to be a trailblazer. You need to take people with you and recruit influential advocates at all levels to make innovation an organisation-wide mission for it to genuinely take root. Without internal advocates or by failing to take the time to understand structural barriers driving hesitancy and resistance you're in danger of being perceived as a lone voice who doesn't get the realities of the business.

In your opinion, what’s the most innovative place in the world?
I spent four years living and working in Mexico City and I still find that the energy of the place and the amazing  proliferation of community programmes — from arts to tech hacks — make it a hive for innovation and entrepreneurship. The strength of that unmistakable community spirit has shone brightly in the days and weeks that followed the devastating earthquake that struck the city on 19 September 2017.

What’s your favourite time of day and why?
Commuting from home in Oxford to work in London has slowly converted me into an early morning person. When I'm on the 6.55am train, coffee in hand and watching the sun come up over the fields, I am grateful for an hour to think (or catch up on emails) or, even better, to meditate and reboot my brain for the day.
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