Rochelle L. Ford | The Innovator 25 Asia Pacific 2018
Charting the future of public relations
Innovator 25 NA Rochelle Ford

Rochelle L. Ford

Dean 

Elon University School of Communications 
Elon, NC 

“At its best, news reporting provides a voice for marginalized communities, while also holding people in power accountable.”
Rochelle Ford has been challenging the industry, particularly around diversity and inclusion, since long before it was in vogue, creating opportunities for PR students — especially those from underrepresented communities — and leading hundreds of presentations on the topic over her 23-year academic career.  Just last year, she edited the autobiography of the late African-American PR pioneer Ofield Dukes, who was also a mentor to Ford early in her career. This year, she was named dean of Elon University’s school of communications, joining from Syracuse University, where she was chair of the public relations department and a professor. 

In what area(s) does the PR need to innovate the most? 
Diversity, analytics and measurement, management 

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?
Analytics and measurement.

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

How do you define innovation? 
Being creative to solve problems strategically based on research/analytics insights.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
March for Our Lives

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing? 
Proctor Gamble - The Talk

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider 'innovative.' 
Creating the Adopt-a-Team program at Howard University, where companies adopt teams of diverse students teaching them about their sector and the students become brand ambassadors while obtaining internships, mentors and other experiences with the brand leaders.

Who do you admire for his/her approach to innovation?  
Jim Weiss, founder W2O

How do you get out of a creativity rut? 
Read something out of the ordinary, look at art.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation? 
Push the envelope. Learn about AI, VR, AR, esports.

What would you be doing if you weren't doing your current job? 
Missionary or professor

Favorite book/movie/podcast/article that's not directly related to PR/marketing/business? 
Most recent favorite is  "The Hate You Give”.