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Ben Smith, Founder, PRmoment.com
This week on the PRmoment Podcast, in the latest of our life stories interviews, I’m pleased to welcome Torod Neptune, who is worldwide group vice president and chief communications officer at Lenovo Group.
His CV is a beautiful thing – he’s previously spent time at Weber, WE, The US House of Representatives and Verizon before joining Lenovo in 2017.
Torod is also a passionate supporter of increasing the number of BAME people working in PR.
Here is a taster of what Torod and I discuss:
[00:01:36] Torod talks about his time working as director of strategic and crisis communications at US House of Representatives during 9/11.
[00:03:22] How his time working in politics gave him an acute understanding of the detail required for stakeholder relationship management.
[00:03:42] How Torod learnt very quickly that there is no such thing as an apolitical role in an organisation such as the Congress.
[00:05:51] Why Torod has always been interested in the stories that were attached to issues involved in politics.
[00:06:07] How, aged 8 or 9, Torod remembers going out with his politician mother and campaigning door to door.
[00:08:07] Torod talks us through the difference in priority and skill that you need between an enterprise (product) based role and a group level global communications role.
[00:09:42] How at an enterprise comms level you need to sell products or protect or build a sub brand that helps drive revenue at the operations level.
[00:09:55] How at a group level the emphasis is on the need and the power of a master brand and a master narrative.
[00:11:08] Why Torod believes product specification is no longer the sole incentive that motivates consumers to purchase – consumers today are more interested in what an organisation is about in terms of its values, principles, ethics and transparency.
[00:12:48] Torod explains the reasons why he buys agency advice and time.
[00:13:26] What is the most effective agency advice that Torod gets?
[00:15:01] Torod talks us through Lenovo's current comms strategy and the challenge to differentiate the business by establishing it as a contributor to society with the aim of wanting "consumers to root for us and want us to win."
[00:15:46] Why Lenovo is focused on creating that emotive attachment to who we are and why we make great products as opposed to the products themselves.
[00:19:34] How Torod and Lenovo have changed the way they buy agency PR advice to force agencies to increase the diversity of their businesses.
[00:20:00] How Lenovo mandated any agency, holding company or independent agency, which wanted to be a part of its RFI and RFP process, to disclose their diversity stats data. Also how Lenovo's account team would also have to reflect Lenovo's customer base and its employee base.
[00:20:57] Why Lenovo in Torod’s words decided to "put our foot down about wanting to see real meaningful action as opposed to a lot of what's unfortunately still rhetoric in this area."
[00:25:16] Why, in the US, if PR firms are not diverse. increasingly they are going to be unable to win contracts with the bigger firms.
[00:25:30] Why agency diversity will become a core procurement-driven issue.
[00:26:25] Why increasing diversity in your team is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense.
[00:27:49 ] Why Torod believes the promoting of PR as a varied and interesting career in the universities is critical.
[00:28:18] Torod talks about his personal career story and the important role that mentors have played in that.
[00:31:55] The problem of retaining BAME people within public relations.
[00:34:14] How the use of data analytics and insight within public relations has changed the way Torod works.
[00:34:30] What are Torod’s data sources and what is the extent of the connectivity of data between comms and marketing?
[00:34:50] How Torod has made sure his team have exposure to sales and customer service data.
[00:37:47] What Lenovo wants from an agency from a data and analytics perspective.
[00:41:59] How Lenovo uses data in corporate and public affairs just as much as consumer markets.
[00:43:46] Why Torod believes that there's a growing and significant portion of consumers globally who want to understand the why, not just the what.