Obele Brown-West | The Innovator 25 North America 2019
Charting the future of public relations
2019-innovator-25-americas-obele-brown-west

Obele Brown-West 

Experience Integration Lead 

Weber Shandwick 
Chicago 

"There is so much creativity that can come just from having a conversation and really listening"

Weber Shandwick has consistently disrupted both itself and the entire industry with new thinking and new products. As we mentioned in our Agency of the Year write-up, no agency is doing more to create an analytical framework for consistent insight generation, social listening, competitive intelligence, predictive analytics and consumer journey mapping. Obele Brown-West is an integral part of this innovation, as North America’s digital client experience integration lead. Overseeing a team of specialists in client experience, integrated media and strategy, Brown-West has been a force behind global and national marketing initiatives for big names in business, including United Airlines, Cards.com and Mattel among them. She was also responsible for the 2007 launch of the website for The Week Magazine - orchestrating the strategy that led to the site reaching 1.2 million unique visitors within the first year of launch. 


In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
Integrated Media, Analytics and Diversity (I would love to see more people that look like me in senior communication roles).

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

How do you define innovation?
Innovation means always knowing there is a different and/or better way.

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
The New York Times and Droga5's "The Truth Is Worth It." From the print to video to experiential outputs, the initiative explained the complexity of investigative journalism in a truly innovative way.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Am I cheating by saying Weber Shandwick?

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
Although social media was very new in 2007, I made a bet on the medium when we launched TheWeek.com. Without making that bet, I truly do not believe the website would have grown as quickly as it did.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
I love having conversations with people. People are fascinating! There is so much creativity that can come just from having a conversation and really listening (verbally and non-verbally) as well as engaging. That said, if I am in a rut and people are not readily available for me to bother with conversation, HGTV's “House Hunters” is also a great creative goldmine.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
The lines across the communications spectrum (advertising, PR, digital, etc) are very blurry. To be relevant, innovation is mandatory, not optional.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend someone rent, read or stream tonight?
On the opposite side of the spectrum from "House Hunters," stream "Schitt's Creek" immediately.