Sean Garrett | The Innovator 25 North America 2019
Charting the future of public relations
2019-innovator-25-americas-sean-garrett

Sean Garrett 

Co-Founder + Managing Partner 

Pramana Collective  
San Francisco 

“Stop trying to make incremental fixes and start over with a blank slate that resets purpose and objectives.”


Sean Garrett has a knack for doing things first. He was Twitter’s first VP of communications, as which he built an in-house PR team recognized for its excellence. He co-founded the first communications firm focused on tech policy, 463 Communications, playing an instrumental role in fostering relationships between tech firms and the government. And then there was the time he handled communications around Chiquita banana’s first arrival in Russia. As co-founder and managing partner of Pramana Collective, Garrett has again been on the forefront, building a communications consultancy like no other in Silicon Valley. There, Garrett pushes brands and clients to draw upon their individual truth — whatever that may be — in their communications. At a time of woke-washing and purpose fatigue, this approach is refreshingly innovative. 

In what way(s) does PR/communications need to innovate the most?
We're overflowing with "innovative" new tools and ways to execute. What will make a difference is totally resetting how comms approaches business problems and opportunities from the start and having methodologies to see change through -- both internally and externally.

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?
Business/management practices 

How do you define innovation?
Providing a new way of doing things that resets imaginations about what is possible

What is the most innovative comms/marketing initiative you've seen in the last 12 months?
It wasn't done for marketing, but the startup Glitch making its company handbook shareable and remixable as part of an effort to ensure that the company lives its shared values.

In your opinion, what brands and/or agencies are most innovative around PR and marketing?
Taco Bell, Glossier, Peloton and Ninja (the streamer)

Describe a moment in your career that you would consider innovative.
When faced with a blank slate at Twitter and a world of attention, not building a traditional comms structure at Twitter but instead weaving in integrated components such as data, video, and, of course, creative uses of content/social as part of the company's foundation.

Most underrated trait in a PR person? 
Their ability to reduce the noise a company may make without them.

How do you get out of a creativity rut?
Stop trying to make incremental fixes and start over with a blank slate that resets purpose and objectives. That and loud music.

What advice would you give to the PR industry around embracing innovation?
The leading cause of slow-moving innovation in PR is the traditional agency business models. They are built for incrementalism and reductiveness. Blow up those and innovation will flow.

What are you thinking about most these days? 
Irony alert:  How the translate the creative and unique approaches we've built at Pramana to new markets beyond our core.

What one movie, book, TV show or podcast do you recommend someone rent, read or stream tonight?
Repo Man -- Creative genius meets philosophical wanderings on life meets pure grade punk rock. It cleanses the soul.