Chris Boehlke | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 NA Christine Boehlke

Chris Boehlke 

Co-founder/Principal    

Bospar   
San Francisco    

“I still consider Virgin Airlines to be the all-time innovator in PR and marketing. Every single behavior of product, service and communication is synchronized to ‘ooze’ their brand.”
Tech PR veteran Chris Boehlke has kept a relatively low-profile the last few years as she’s grown and expanded her second entrepreneurial effort, Bospar. In three years, the tech shop has grown to $3.7 million with 22 people – while also making a 20% or more in profit. Most notably, Bospar is disrupting the conventional industry thinking that a brick-and-mortar office becomes inevitable after a certain size. In fact, Bospar manages to be a 100% virtual agency by implementing technology, training and processes designed specifically for a virtual workforce — including teaching senior staff how to manage remote teams and conduct virtual whiteboarding. From her perspective, the agency “moved PR’s center of gravity to be far closer to the firm’s staff and clients than traditional models allow.”           

In what area(s) does the PR need to innovate the most? 
Social media, analytics and measurement, integration  

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

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation? 
Content creation.

Who most influences how innovative a brand's engagement is? 
CEO 

How do you define innovation? 
The ability to break loose from status quo assumptions and envision something in a totally new way, based on what people really want and need.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
It is impossible to name just one, because the various challenges are so incredibly diverse in today's world.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
I still consider Virgin Airlines to be the all-time innovator in PR and marketing. Every single behavior of product, service and communication is synchronized to "ooze' their brand.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
In starting Bospar, when my partner and I decided to make it a virtual PR firm. That is what today's professionals want - and what makes a firm most flexible and responsive. It requires continual innovating around all aspects of how PR agencies work. So far - it's been a 4-year "moment"!!

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
I get out in the field and talk to some users. Or go to a juicy conference where lots of ideas are flowing. Like Holmes!

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
My favorite quote is "only when you learn how to see the invisible - can you do the impossible." Public relations should encompass anything that enhances relations with your public/s. When Virgin Airlines changed safety messages from boring to great performances - that was innovation in relating to their customers. Or having their pilots step out of the cabin to welcome people aboard. This is innovative PR at work. Another favorite quote is, "a brand is the way a company behaves." PR can go really deep - to help define the heart and soul of a company or product.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
Helping create the school curriculum that will educate young people on saving the environment - so that it becomes pervasive behavior as they grow up. I'm on the board of an organization that addresses this - but there's so much to do - and so little time left to do it.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not directly related to PR/marketing/business? 
Series (if series count): Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown." Movie (if series don't count): Spotlight