Dan Cohen | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 NA Dan Cohen

Dan Cohen

Senior Director Public Relations & Social Media

Beam Suntory
Chicago

“Old school media relations as we know it may be evolving as newsrooms keep diminishing, but old fashioned storytelling and relationship building is still what sets PR apart from the other marketing functions.”
Dan Cohen has helped Beam Suntory emerge as one of the most inspired marketers in its category with campaigns that have infused old-school brands, like the nearly 225-year-old Jim Beam bourbon, with unexpected hipness. When Jim Bean launched its own version of an Apple watch — a wearable shot glass— on the same day as the Apple launch, the Jim Beam product sold out in hours. Cohen also oversaw the brand’s smart decanter (another sell-out) that pours whiskey on-demand and its groundbreaking Uber partnership with the Chicago Cubs, which automatically offered free rides home to 10,000 Cubs fans during the team’s recent World Series run. 

In what area(s) does the PR need to innovate the most? 
Social media, creativity, media relations  

How would you describe the communications/PR industry's level of innovation compared to other marketing disciplines? 
More innovative then other marketing disciplines

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation? 
Creative ideas 

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

How do you define innovation? 
Innovation is the delivery of ideas that achieve results in ways that are either fresh, unique or unexpected.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Our Jim Beam AI Decanter PR stunt last fall (managed by our PR agency, Olson Engage), which allowed us to disrupt pop culture conversation in a way that stood out, appealed to our consumer target, and positioned our brand as relevant and innovative.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
I love how Supreme [the skate company] continues to innovate in the style/fashion space.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Thom Yorke

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Fly to the west coast and spend a few hours coming up with ideas.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
Old school media relations as we know it may be evolving as newsrooms keep diminishing, but old fashioned storytelling and relationship building is still what sets PR apart from the other marketing functions. As an industry, we need to continue to innovate in the ways we tell our brands' stories and build our relationships — we have an open runway. But we cannot get caught with the same-old tactics and stale approaches that worked in the newsrooms of the past.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
I'd be a passionate roadie for Pearl Jam

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not directly related to PR/marketing/business? 
WTF Podcast