Jo Carr of Hope&Glory talks to us about super powers and the importance of storytelling
Following the success of our Global Power Book #PRProSeries, we continue the series exploring the careers of the most powerful communications pros around the world today. We sat down with Jo Carr, Co-founder and managing partner of Hope&Glory, to find out how she made it in the industry.
Why did you get into communications?
I always had an inkling that I wanted to get into PR. I flirted with the idea of journalism and also advertising but settled on PR as it seemed to combine the best of all worlds… giving client counsel, a chance to strategically plan campaigns as well as coming up with cracking ideas and making them happen. Advertising seemed to separate the world into suits, planners, and creatives while PR mashed them all together. I liked that.
What personal attribute has most helped you succeed in your career?
I hate to say it, but probably a fear of screwing things up which succeeds in making me jump out of bed every morning ready to take on the day. I’ve been encouraged recently to think of it less of a flaw and more of my very own super-power. Amazing how you can reframe a negative into a positive.
What would you say has been the biggest challenge that you’ve overcome?
Less a challenge and more of an adventure... But definitely opening the doors of Hope&Glory just under five years ago and seeing the agency go on to knock out some amazing work thanks to awesome individuals and brave clients.
Any crucial moments that changed the course of your career?
Meeting James Gordon MacIntosh (the other Co-founder at Hope&Glory) when we were both managing partners at Seventy Seven PR and then realising that we had very complementary working styles, even if we’re immensely different individuals. Braving it together to start Hope&Glory has certainly changed the course of both of our careers.
Who would you say has been the most inspiring person you’ve worked with?
He’s not paid me to say this, but James Gordon MacIntosh gets an honourable mention for sure. His boundless energy and enthusiasm, his brilliant mind plus his ability to make work fun and one big adventure are all very inspiring. I’m also inspired by my many clients, all of whom bring something different to the party and from whom I am continually learning.
What is the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Always bring your best self to work and make sure it’s an authentic version of you. It’s advice I pass on to colleagues - best to be as close to your true character as you can. No play-acting to masquerading as someone else and if a work culture demands that of you, you’re likely in the wrong place.
What do you think it takes to be a successful CEO/MD in 2016?
Nurturing a team of people who have complimentary but different skills and interests. The industry and the activities we’re asked to undertake have become more diverse, which means that you need a more diverse workforce. Not just of race or gender, but as much of attitude, skills, approach, passions, and background. People with a diversity of life experience and insight is more vital today than ever. This all means that a CEO or MD needs to plot how those different people will gel together to make a cohesive unit. Staying curious is also important. Being the person who cares about the new stuff. At the same time, sweating the small things. Understanding millennials and their rather different needs and the fact that their values, approach to work and employment are not the same as yours.
In ten years’ time, what do you think will be the biggest change in the global communications industry?
Conversations and communication will get ever more personal and bespoke. But there will always be a place for traditional and more mainstream media and we ignore them at our peril. Agencies who can straddle both worlds will do well. Also, storytelling will remain crucial but agencies will need to work harder to ensure they don’t allow narratives to be either diluted or become nonsensical. The princess was saved by the prince because she was being chased by a dragon. We shouldn't get so obsessed with creativity or stunts or creating an impact that we forget to build in the compelling reason why something is happening in the first place. The best ideas are rooted in a real life insights or problems and I’d hate for that to change.
What would you say are the three words that best describe you as a communicator?
I asked my colleagues about this one and they said a number of things. Of the ones I could print, probably empathetic, curious about people and very accessible are the words that most sum me up.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Usually by reminding myself that I get paid to do some remarkable things and to work with a very talented bunch of people who make me laugh most days.
Tell us more about Hope & Glory
Hope&Glory is a consumer lifestyle agency and we’re soon to be five years old. People often ask us about our USP and what makes us different. The truth is we didn’t set out to be radically different, just better. Better at coming up creative ideas with impact, better at landing stories across the media and social channels and simply doing a better job at client service. I feel hugely privileged to work with such awesome brands – from IKEA through to O2 and Airbnb – and alongside some simply lovely (and first-rate) PRs.
If you weren’t in communications what would you do?
The truth is I can’t imagine doing anything other than what I do because I love it. If you had to push me… probably working in an independent bookshop and getting lost in the pages of a book or two.
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