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What drives communication innovation?

No business can afford to stand still, but this is particularly true of those working in the PR and comms field so what feeds innovation? 

Making more money is always a number-one driver, so it is no surprise that ‘a desire to create value’ is a key motivator for innovation according to the Innovation Index from research company the Pulse Business in partnership with executive search firm Whitney Murray.

Which one of these, if any, drives innovation in the PR & Comms industry?

Business strategy
Discussing why a desire to create value is such a key force for innovation, Helen Humphreys, founder of agency Acorn Communications, says: "If we keep close to the business and understand the business strategy and needs, then it means we should always be looking to get ahead of what the business is trying to deliver. This should drive us to innovation as we create solutions for strategic business problems."

Strive for change
For Gavin Devine, director at comms consultancy Park Street Partners, the key to innovation is be hungry for change: “To be innovative you have, as an organisation, to want to change and grow. I've worked in too many places and managed too many teams that paid lip-service to the need for innovation, but actually, in their bones, didn't want to change at all. To allow that instinct to thrive you have to be willing to take risks and learn from failure. And give permission to others to do the same. Innovation depends on intelligence – not necessarily book-learning intelligence, but an interest in the world around, a willingness to learn from it, and a desire always to challenge the status quo. PR and comms is creative, but despite that is surprisingly slow to innovate. Shareholders, particularly private equity owners, rarely allow the margin break required to disrupt what is there already."

The rationale
In terms of why the Innovation Index is an important measure, Imogen Osborne, founder of The Pulse Business says: “Why did we run this pulse? We feel that agencies and in-house comms directors are constantly trying to find ways to innovate with their communications campaigns – especially when they can show a massive spike in ROI. We’re keen to share peer-group thinking on this topic and over time, extract great ideas around innovation from the people in the know and who have influential roles to play in the comms sector. We’re also planning a networking event in late May to bring everyone together so that people can meet and make new professional connections.”

Change is never easy, but it is inevitable, and it is much better to be the author of change, rather than allow it to take you by surprise.

The Pulse Business questioned around 200 in-house comms directors and agency MDs in late 2018.

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