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One On One With Nick Cowling, Innovation And Public Relations

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Nick CowlingPR In Canada – Why make this change now? 
Nick I spent that last three years focused on the US business.  It was a fascinating learning experience for me personally and I’m really proud what was achieved. From a professional perspective, I had little time to do the work I thrive on – I call it my “what’s next” list.  This list is all of the potential and opportunity I see in the market and the areas I feel will soon have enormous demand or be marked differentiators.  On a personal level, being on the road 80% of the time take its toll  My family was wonderful about it, but I missed being at home for some of the milestones moments with my kids –  the odd dance recital for my daughter, or the ceremony when my son earned a new belt at jujitsu.  
Today, I get to do both of those. Experiencing all the moments with my family and the personal growth by driving innovation for the agency.  And I also bring back the US experience which can be applied here in Canada.

PR In Canada – What does innovation mean to the public relations industry? 
Nick This can be so many things. We’ve seen industries of all kinds be disrupted by technology. PR/Marketing is no different. It’s much more than applying what martech is available is all about how its applied.   I’ve been focused for months on the achilles heel of the industry – measurement. It’s been a passion of mine for a decade or more, but either the right data wasn’t available or the clients weren’t ready to make a change. However, the stars are aligned now and I’m so excited about some of the Data Solutions we’ve been building. I don’t know  if impression or reach will ever go away, but I’ll be very glad when those data points become a small factor in the overall ROI equation.
Again, innovation in my mind is about how we continually improve – not just efficiency – but more so efficacy. Our discipline is so powerful and when you apply new ways of thinking and the right technology it can blow your mind. We’re working on innovations that apply AI to influencer marketing, an insight engine for storytelling, more personalized measurement solutions including a performance model and emergent trends tool that helps predict growing conversations.   It’s exciting stuff. 

PR In Canada – Why is so important now for brands to innovate? 
Nick Every company on the planet is looking at some sort of innovation. Fact is, there will always be momentum in business, but there’s no status quo, there’s only moving forwards or moving backwards. Which should make it easier to pick a right path, but it’s not always the case. If you’ve ever seen any business innovation curve, you know that the next version or iteration of your offering needs to start before your current offering loses steam. That’s not an easy decision to make, unless you’re always looking ahead and don’t have any sacred cows. 

PR In Canada – What can the industry expect or will see different from Citizen Relations in 2019?
Nick – I’ve mentioned a few projects earlier, so you’ll see those pieces coming to market.  You’ll also see new thought leadership. What you won’t see, but will be a continued effort is how we’re growing our Citizens. We’re in the business of great service – so what we really sell is talented professionals! Yes, we need to innovate and have great ideas and superior strategy – these are the reasons client decide to start working with us. But they stay with us because of flawless execution and a team that digs into their business and makes their lives infinitely easier. At Citizen, personal growth is the top priority – while we continue to bring Citizens I tot he fold from other disciplines, we also spend a lot of time and resources making sure all Citizens have a well rounded education and understanding of all the other Marketing disciplines. It’s makes us great contributors when working with Integrated Agency Teams, it helps us provide better advice and counsel to our clients and it makes our Citizens much more excited about their professional development and future with Citizen.

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