Leslie Campisi | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 NA Leslie Campisi

Leslie Campisi 

Chief Marketing Officer     

Anthemis   
New York    

“Whether their engagement originates as an expression of the company's values — like Seventh Generation or Burton supporting employees attending the Women’s March last January — or through the, shall we say, nudging of watch groups like Sleeping Giants, brands are (finally!) realizing that they can’t just ignore politics, which has huge implications for the communications landscape”
Leslie Campisi’s industry innovation is two-pronged. At Anthemis, she’s bringing the financial tech sector with unexpected collaborators to yield provocative conversations, including critiques of labor and capital. The inaugural Hacking Finance Live brought together finance and literary folks to explore the meaning of work. She has also championed expanding #MeToo accountability to the PR and marketing industry, in particular calling out practices and behaviors that perpetuate problems. 

In what area(s) does the PR need to innovate the most? 
Creativity, diversity, management 

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

Where is the PR industry's greatest opportunity for taking the lead on innovation? 
Industry diversity and equal pay  

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

How do you define innovation? 
Does "innovation" still mean anything? When everyone is innovating, or trying to, perhaps it's become the natural way of doing business? This could be my prejudice as I've worked in the tech sector my entire career, where you're either innovating, or you're dead.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
March for Our Lives. Not only because of its huge impact, but also in that it challenges our notions of how victims should behave and what teenagers can achieve.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
Riffing on the above, it’s been an incredible year to watch brands discover political activism. That’s innovation by choice and necessity. Whether their engagement originates as an expression of the company's values — like Seventh Generation or Burton supporting employees attending the Women’s March last January — or through the, shall we say, nudging of watch groups like Sleeping Giants, brands are (finally!) realizing that they can’t just ignore politics, which has huge implications for the communications landscape. For me, Patagonia always sets the standard with an almost perfectly calibrated expression of values across brand, merchandise, retail, content, marketing and public relations. Their decision to close again this Election Day (as they did in 2016) so their team can make it to the polls is just one recent example of how this commitment to values plays out. I have to say, I'm also very intrigued by WeWork's new "no meat” policy. Is this a sign they are going to bring their values to the fore? (I’m curious as to what their values are…)

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
Probably the moment I quit my first job at a startup at the height of the dot com boom and bought a one-way plane ticket to Italy! Innovation requires risk-taking and leap-making. Having lots of jobs, especially early in your career, is an under-appreciated asset. Developing a sense that you’ll be okay taking chances isn’t an intellectual exercise — it’s a skill, a muscle, and you need to use it to strengthen it. I think it’s particularly important for women to take risks, in a world where we’re mostly asked to be charming, work hard and smile. (Spoiler: I came back 😃)

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Not Elon Musk.

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Step away. Take a nap. Eat well. Drink enough water. Do yoga. Experience nature. Never, ever grind through.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
The PR industry needs to stop thinking innovation is all about cool new campaigns. Wake up: it’s the business of PR that needs innovating, starting with its fundamentally flawed, Industrial Age, billable-hour business model. Let’s innovate how teams are structured. What client engagements look like. What the PR workplace looks like. How we make money and how we share the wealth. Let’s reinvent our trade associations to properly support people throughout their careers. Let’s recruit people from other disciplines into PR. And, most importantly, let’s make sure we are doing whatever we can to protect journalism and not participate in or profit off of “fake news.”

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
At some point, I’d love to run an agency again. It’s the funnest job in the business.

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not related to PR/marketing/business?
Cosmicomics by Italo Calvino. (Anything by Calvino, really.)