Fred Haberman | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 NA Fred Haberman

Fred Haberman

CEO & Co-Founder 

Haberman — Modern Storytellers for Pioneers 
Minneapolis

“The innovative moment revolves around realizing that the best learning is experiential learning.”
CEO and co-founder (along with his wife Sarah) of his mission-eponymous agency, Fred Haberman has spent nearly 25 years helping to take organic food mainstream working alongside brands like Annie’s and Organic Valley, as well as trade organizations. He’s now expanded his vision to building solutions to the world’s ongoing food issues, including co-founding Urban Organics, an aquaponics farm that uses just 2% of the water used in traditional agriculture. As brands are taking, more seriously than ever, food system issues — Haberman continues to be a leader and innovator in the evolving food movement.  

In what area(s) does the PR need to innovate the most? 
Paid Opportunities  

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?
Integrated marketing 

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

How do you define innovation? 
Something new that has never been created before

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
Use of Alexa

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
Those that create their own marketing/comms initiatives for enterprises they have created. This allows agencies to experiment and learn new ways of doing things, creating more credibility in the eyes of clients and deeper empathy within the agency for a clients' challenges. It also allows for agencies to develop secondary revenue streams.

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
Creating the US Pond Hockey Championships, the largest pond hockey tourney in the US, and Urban Organics, a farm the Guardian calls one of the ten most innovative farming projects in the world. The innovative moment revolves around realizing that the best learning is experiential learning — developing enterprises that show clients that you have real business acumen and understand their pressures and challenges and that you don't just look through a marketing lens when helping them with their business.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Elon Musk and Will Allen (leader in transforming food deserts)

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Realize that all projects are experiments, remember that great innovators embrace imagination more than knowledge; take a break, get some sleep, play my guitar, ride my bike and spend a solid amount of time in nature where creativity abounds

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
It's OK to be over your head. Embrace a beginner's mind attitude. Create products or businesses in your passion area as a side initiative so you can learn more about new ways of doing things. This will create greater engagement for your staff, deepen your empathy for your clients' businesses challenges and allow you to explore new revenue opportunities beyond services.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job?
 I would be a camp director in the summer and an English professor/head of 4th grade recess in the winter.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not directly related to PR/marketing/business? 
The Odyssey by Homer/School of Rock with Jack Black and the latest Mr. Rogers documentary