This year we've published 48 PRovoke Media podcasts, including content with our partners, with agency, corporate and NGO guests from around the world joining our editors to talk about big topics from creativity to geopolitics, diversity to mergers and acquisitions. Here are the 10 episodes that were most listened to this year; half of the podcasts on the list feature conversations with in-house communications and strategy leaders, while the other five are focused on agencies.
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Google's all-female comms leadership team
To mark International Women's Day and Women's History Month in March, four members of Google's all-female communications leadership team in the UK and EMEA joined Maja Pawinska Sims for the most-listened-to PRovoke podcast of the year – as well as being one of the longest. The quartet – Laura Wheeler, head of communications for Google Cloud, UKI and META; Jo Ogunleye, who runs B2B communications at Google and YouTube and is responsible for developing DEI networks across EMEA; corporate communications manager Delia Williams-Falokun; and Sarah Rowley, head of PR and communications for YouTube in the UK – had a conversation that was by turns frank, funny, thoughtful and inspiring, covering their professional paths, their personal challenges and choices, and the policies and campaigns they admire and are inspired by.
Former Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank comms chief Bob Pickard
In October, former Edelman and Burson-Marsteller Asia leader Bob Pickard joined the PRovoke podcast to discuss his dramatic exit from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) this summer, after a year as director general of communications, after he accused the bank of being overly influenced by the Chinese Communist Party. In conversation with Arun Sudhaman, Pickard responded to a
subsequent AIIB report that dismissed his allegations, and instead claimed his tenure was marked by“managerial shortcomings”. He also discussed the geopolitical environment for Western companies in China, and explains why he took on the AIIB role in the first place.
Maureen Lippe On Radical Reinvention
In a moving and inspiring conversation in August, Lippe Taylor founder and chairman Maureen Lippe joined Diana Marszalek on the PRovoke podcast to discuss her new book, 'Radical Reinvention - Reimagine, Reset, Reinvent in a Disruptive World'. Lippe, who was Vogue's fashion editor and then beauty and health editor of Harper's Bazaar before founding her agency in 1989, shared her emotional and professional recovery during the height of the pandemic, during which she saw her company double in size but lost her husband of nearly 40 years to Covid. The book – the writing of which Lippe describes as therapeutic and cathartic – coaches readers through an eight-step reinvention toolkit that Lippe personally created, tested, and verified with therapists and firestarters who are also featured in the conversation.
Cannes review and market update
It's rare that PRovoke Media editors Arun Sudhaman, previously based in Hong Kong and now in India, and Maja Pawinska Sims, based in the UK, are able to be in the same room together for a chat, but in July, after returning from PRovoke Media's annual trip to Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, they both sat down at the Markettiers studio in London to review the 2023 Cannes Lions winners. In a lively discussion, the duo addressed PR's performance and influence at the festival this year and since the inception of the PR Lions in 2009 – including reference to our annual CEO roundtable and PR Lions jury roundtable in Cannes – and also analysed the beginnings of the market and pipeline slowdown in the industry.
Why creativity is exploding in B2B comms
B2B communications hasn't always been seen as the most creative segment of the PR industry, but with more and more B2B agencies recruiting creative directors – and Cannes Lions introducing a B2B creativity category last year – that perception is changing. In May, Maja Pawinska Sims was joined on the PRovoke podcast by a trio of guests from B2B technology specialist Fight or Flight, launched in 2020 by Weber Shandwick UK technology practice leaders Joe Walton, David Woodward and Charlie Meredith-Hardy and named by PRovoke Media as one of the
top 10 fastest-growing agencies in the world this year . Woodward, alongside the agency's first head of creative, former Weber Shandwick consumer lead Kate Sarginson, and Lauren Payne McLeod, associate director of strategy and creative, talked about the growing opportunities for creativity in B2B brand marketing.
AJ Jones on Starbucks, DEI & employee partners
Starbucks has had a challenging time, reputationally, in recent years, having been targeted by employee rights organizations for its aggressive union-busting tactics and being accused of backing away from its commitment to LGBTQ issues in the“woke” debate. In January, Aranthan“AJ” Jones II, who has been head of global communications and public affairs at Starbucks since 2021, joined the PRovoke podcast to tell Diana Marszalek how he has not only re-established the company as a leader on DEI issues, but has rallied his counterparts in other high-profile companies to diversify their communications departments, as well as requiring the same of agency partners. Jones also talked about his advocacy of corporate America banding together to address DEI, and the coffee giant's relationship with its employees and recent efforts to unionize.
Andrew Bloch on clients, new business and agency M&A
Andrew Bloch, co-founder of iconic UK agency Frank, joined Arun Sudhaman on the PRovoke podcast in July to discuss his new career direction since stepping back from the agency in 2020. He talked about his new era, involving roles focusing on agency selection, as a consultant with AAR Group, and working on mergers and acquisitions with PCB Partners, as well as various board and advisory positions, and continuing to work as Lord Sugar's spokesman. In their conversation, Bloch explored challenges in the client-agency relationship, the evolution of new business and pitch processes, and the current state of play when it comes to buying and selling PR firms.
Davos voices 2023
In this podcast from January, Arun Sudhaman curated three separate conversations with prominent chief communications and marketing officers while he was in sub-zero Davos. Each conversation brought different experiences and a different lens on which to view the World Economic Forum. In the first, TCS global markets CMO/CCO Abhinav Kumar weighed up the benefits of Davos against its reputation issues, before Mubadala CCO Brian Lott discussed the geopolitical media environment, particularly as it applies to his experiences in the Middle East. In the third recording on the podcast, HCLTech global CMO Jill Kouri revealed her progress and lessons in terms of repositioning the Indian technology brand.
The Change Agencies on inclusive communications
Founded in 2019, The Change Agencies is a US network of 13 independent multicultural and LGBTQ communications and public affairs firms owned and operated by people in the communities they serve. In this edition of the PRovoke podcast from April, Diana Marszalek was joined by The Change Agencies founding principal Ben Finzel, president of RenewPR, and network member Kristelle Siarza, founder and CEO of Siarza, based in New Mexico and California. The duo outlined the evolving work of the network at a time when DEI consciousness is high on the agenda of business, and discussed their various approaches to truly inclusive communications programmes that help clients more authentically reach and engage those multicultural and LGBTQ audiences.
The power of strategic comms for social impact
Sometimes, the best PRovoke podcast guests aren't actually comms professionals themselves, but bring a valuable, fresh new way of looking at the world. In this episode from July, Stan Getui, the then-Africa director of Luminate – a global foundation that aims to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in civic and political life – joined Maja Pawinska Sims to talk about the global philanthropy organization's 'Winning Hearts and Minds' report, in a fascinating conversation on how nonprofits, activists, community groups, funders and creative agencies can harness the power of strategic communications for greater social impact, as well as looking at the barriers to collaboration between strategic communications firms and these change agents.
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