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Jason MacKenzie, CIPR: We must beware of innovation for the sake of innovation

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Jason MacKenzie

We are glad to publish today for our PR innovation column the interview with Jason MacKenzie, the President-Elect of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations CIPR. Jason is an integrated PR and marketing communications professional. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and in 2017 will become president of the CIPR.

Jason, what is your definition of innovation in PR?

I believe that persuasion is at the core of public relations. Whilst innovation is important, good PR moves hearts and minds. It has an impact on the way people think and feel – and crucially motivates them to change their actions. We must beware of innovation for the sake of innovation. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

How do you assess the capacity of the industry to come up with fundamental innovative approaches?

We’re a creative industry in a fast-changing social and digital world. Innovative people are drawn into PR – and the industry should, in turn, foster and nurture talent. At its best, this is a powerful iterative cycle.

What are the common misunderstandings when we speak about innovation in PR?

The most common error is confusing ‘innovation’ with ‘creativity’. They are not synonymous. Whilst creativity relates to imagination, innovation is about implementation. We are both thinkers and doers. The two must be wedded.

Which are the key factors that are holding back innovation in our industry?

The key factor is fear of the unknown. Boldness is the antidote.

Innovation requires time and reflexivity, quite a contrast to the hourly pricing and fee model that defines the actual business model. Do you see a way out of this contradiction?

Most consultancies sell units of time. It’s deeply embedded. Agonising about it won’t change it. We need to press on and not get endlessly caught up in fruitless discussions.

Are the clients feeling a sense of priority or urgency about the need for innovative PR services?

Innovation is a secondary concern to most clients. They simply want results. How we go about delivering them is not a priority for them, it’s just a vehicle.

What might be the next big thing affecting the PR industry in the near future?

There are all manner of opportunities, from artificial intelligence to wearable tech. The main challenges aren’t specific technological or societal changes, but how we adapt our mindset and our practice to ensure that we continue to achieve and exceed objectives.

Interview by Dana Oancea. Copyright PR Romania.

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