In partnership with PR Daily, “How We Did It” is a series featuring IPR Trustees discussing a success in their public relations career.

As a passionate public relations professional, I am always evaluating new ideas and business models that benefit our clients and inspire creativity and growth.

Thus, I am an eager seeker of research on target audience attitudes and perspectives to shape my thinking. Research from the media and other sources is all around us.

While perusing research a few years ago, I was quite intrigued with the following data:

  • 84% of customers want to buy from innovative companies.
  • 77% of employees are more loyal to innovative companies.
  • 50% of U.S. GDP growth each year is driven by innovation.

Every executive knows that for a business to succeed, innovation is crucial. The above data prove it.

Unfortunately, innovation is a term that is greatly overused and means different things to different people. So, what does it really mean?

One of my favorite definitions is the following: “Innovation is creating new value and/or capturing value in a new way.” Another definition says innovation is “the action required to create new ideas, programs or products, which when implemented, leads to positive effective change.” Both definitions were created by innovation experts.

From my own experience, I’ve observed that innovation is often linked with technology. Based on the above data I can also see why so many companies are touting that they are building “the future of x industry” but offer little proof of impact. There is confusion out there.

I believe that in order to truly connect with people and give innovation true meaning, there must be behaviors, symbols and systems that bring it to life for all types of audiences.

Whether you are a built-to-innovate Goliath like Alphabet or Amazon, a legacy innovator like IBM or Johnson + Johnson, a new age disruptor like Peloton, or an entrepreneur with a patent and a dream, there is a common thread that is essential for sustainable growth: your ability to demonstrate your capabilities and communicate your innovation story so people become believers.

Thus, Makovsky created “Innovation Relations,” which is possibly the agency world’s first systematized practice dedicated to building reputations for innovation leaders. We leverage design thinking and best practices from the tech world to prototype and co-create a company’s innovation story with target audiences that matter—and we are in the room where the development is taking place, so we know which ideas are appealing and which are not.

In the Innovation Relations program, we work with marketing and communications leaders to inspire and activate their audiences around their innovation story. Our approach includes the following actions:

  • Building communications experiences the client’s target audience actually wants, while contributing to development of new products, services and business models or transforming an old product into an innovative one
  • Mitigating risk by validating communications programs as well as new products, services and ideas from the very beginning instead of post-launch
  • Using design thinking, rapid prototyping and other tools to transform how teams approach new challenges
  • Including target audience members and other outside counsel in the testing and validation of program objectives

New ideas convert into marketing programs, products and services, which in and of themselves need to be marketed.

The result is a future worth banking on and an innovation story worth sharing.

Ken Makovsky is a trustee and former co-chairman of the Institute for Public Relations.  Makovsky + Co. has won 70 awards over the past five years. 

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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