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Matt Kovacs on Fueling Growth in Competitive Industries


Matt Kovacs is the President of Blaze PR. n this role, he has shown an ability to constantly keep innovating and fueling growth within the industry. Today, he shares insights with The Industry Leaders.


Could you give us a brief overview of your business and your role within the company, especially in relation to innovation?

Matt Kovacs is one of California's most respected consumer PR strategists, putting his 20+ years of experience in strategic thinking and unique approaches to work for recognized brands, rebrands and start-ups. Kovacs adds his talent as the President and senior strategist at BLAZE PR, the nationally recognized consumer PR division of Davies. BLAZE represents leading brands in CPG, consumer and lifestyle industries. In recent years Kovacs and his team at BLAZE have been recognized for their leadership in consumer PR, taking home PR Week, LABJ, Hermes Awards, Communicator Award, PRSA PRism and Silver Quill Awards. Kovacs understands the opportunities and challenges each client faces, he leads his team to develop innovative, influential programs to overcome these obstacles and successfully achieve clients' business objectives.



What kind of innovations have you or your company brought to the industry, and how have these set you apart from the competition?

As part of our strategic outreach efforts, it’s important for us to leverage the brain power of press and understand their perceptions of the category and marketplace. Therefore, we contacted targeted media and bloggers to find out what they think currently about trends in the industry. The process includes: identifying relevant media and influencers; developing survey questions regarding their perceptions of the category; conducting interviews.

This data provides us with a baseline understanding of how the category is viewed and a platform for providing initial insights and recommendations for further PR efforts.


Can you walk us through a specific instance where innovation played a key role in solving a business challenge or capturing a new opportunity?

A media perception audit is a process that involves analyzing and assessing how a company or brand is portrayed in the media. This includes traditional media (such as newspapers, magazines, and television) as well as online media (social media, blogs, forums, etc.). Conducting a media perception audit provides valuable insights into public opinion, identify potential challenges, and inform strategic decision-making.


Media Perception Audit Steps:

Define Objectives: The first step is to clearly define the objectives of the media perception audit. In this case, the company wanted to understand how the media is portraying the brand and gauge public sentiment.


Media Monitoring: Utilize media monitoring tools to track and analyze mentions in traditional and online media. This includes news articles, social media posts, blog posts, and forum discussions.


Sentiment Analysis: Apply sentiment analysis to understand whether the media coverage is predominantly positive, negative, or neutral. Identify key themes and topics associated with the coverage.


Identify Key Stakeholders: Identify key stakeholders, including customers, investors, employees, and regulatory bodies. Analyze how these stakeholders are reacting to the news and if there are any specific concerns or demands.


Competitor Benchmarking: Compare brand's media perception with that of its competitors.

Identify Influencers: Identify influencers and thought leaders in the industry who are discussing the brand. Determine if they are influencing public opinion positively or negatively.


Strategic Response:

Armed with these findings, we can develop a strategic response:


Communication Strategy: Develop a clear and transparent communication strategy. This may include issuing a press releases, hosting a media event, conducting press conferences, and engaging with customers on social media.


Product Updates: Prioritize and expedite the resolution of the brand timelines and launches. Communicate the steps taken to provide relevant updates.


Engage with Key Stakeholders: Proactively engage with key stakeholders, including customers, investors, and regulatory bodies, to address their concerns and provide updates.


Monitor and Adjust: Continuously monitor media coverage and public sentiment. Adjust the communication strategy and actions based on evolving situations.


Outcome:

By leveraging the insights gained from the media perception audit, we can navigate the brand's reputation more effectively. The company can address concerns, build trust with stakeholders, and demonstrate a commitment of excellence. Over time, as positive actions are communicated and implemented, the media perception will help the brand's overall reputation.


How do you foster a culture of innovation within your team, and what strategies do you use to encourage creative thinking?

Fostering a culture of innovation within a PR agency is crucial for staying ahead in a dynamic and competitive industry. Here are several strategies we employ to encourage creative thinking and cultivate an innovative culture within the team:


Embrace a Growth Mindset:

Encourage team members to adopt a growth mindset where challenges are seen as opportunities for learning and improvement.


Create an Open and Inclusive Environment:

Foster a culture where every team member feels comfortable sharing ideas without fear of judgment.


Provide Professional Development Opportunities:

Support attendance at conferences, workshops, and other events that expose team members to new ideas and approaches.


Implement Flexible Work Practices:

Allow for flexible work hours or remote work, recognizing that individuals may have different environments where they feel most creative and productive.


Provide Resources for Innovation:

Ensure that the team has access to tools, technologies, and training needed to explore new ideas and approaches.


Encourage Curiosity:

Foster a sense of curiosity by encouraging team members to explore new areas of interest, whether related to PR trends, emerging technologies, or creative industries.


Set Ambitious Goals:

Challenge the team with ambitious but achievable goals. This can stimulate creative thinking as team members work to find innovative solutions to meet objectives.


Establish a Feedback Loop:

Create a feedback loop where team members can provide input on projects and initiatives.



Innovation often comes with its set of challenges. Could you share an example of a significant obstacle you faced while trying to innovate, and how you overcame it?

Certainly, an obstacle we faced while innovating within our PR agency was the initial reticence among our staff with the concept of media perception audits. As we aimed to integrate this strategic approach into our services, we encountered a lack of enthusiasm from some team members who were not well-versed in the intricacies of media analysis.


Overcoming this challenge involved a comprehensive training and educational initiative. We organized workshops and training sessions to educate our staff on the importance of media perception audits, explaining the methodologies involved and showcasing real-world examples of their impact. We also provided hands-on training with the tools and technologies needed for effective media monitoring and analysis. By investing in our team's education and ensuring everyone had the necessary skills, we not only overcame the initial hurdle but also transformed resistance into enthusiasm. The result was a more informed and empowered team capable of leveraging media perception audits as a valuable tool for client success.



How do you measure the success of your innovation initiatives, and what role does customer feedback play in this process?

To measure the success of innovation initiatives, we employ a multifaceted approach that encompasses both quantitative and qualitative metrics. Key performance indicators (KPIs) such as the successful implementation of new ideas, improvements in operational efficiency, and the impact on client satisfaction are tracked meticulously.


Additionally, we prioritize client feedback as a pivotal component of our assessment strategy. Regularly soliciting input from our clients allows us to gauge the real-world impact of our innovations on their experiences. We value feedback as a direct source of insight into their needs, preferences, and pain points, enabling us to iterate and refine our innovations in alignment with their expectations. This iterative feedback loop ensures that our innovations are not only groundbreaking but also resonate with and bring tangible value to our clients.



Looking ahead, what trends or areas of innovation do you think will be most crucial for businesses in your industry?

Looking ahead, the integration of AI in PR is poised to be a transformative trend crucial for businesses. AI offer unprecedented capabilities in data analysis, allowing for more sophisticated and targeted audience insights. Additionally, AI-driven content generation streamlines the creation of compelling narratives and press materials. Embracing these AI innovations is not merely a technological advancement; it's a strategic imperative for PR professionals to stay ahead in an evolving landscape, ensuring more efficient operations, data-driven decision-making, and ultimately, more impactful communication strategies.



What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in competitive industries who are looking to drive innovation within their businesses?

For entrepreneurs navigating competitive industries with a focus on driving innovation, my advice is to foster a culture of continuous learning and curiosity within your team. Encourage open communication, where every team member feels empowered to share ideas and perspectives.

Embrace failure as a learning opportunity, and instill a growth mindset that views challenges as stepping stones to innovation. Keep a pulse on industry trends, invest in ongoing education for your team, and actively seek out new technologies that can enhance your operations. Collaborate with diverse experts, both within and outside your organization, to bring fresh perspectives to problem-solving. Prioritize customer feedback, understanding that it is a valuable source of insights that can guide your innovation efforts.


Lastly, set ambitious yet realistic goals, and provide the necessary resources and support for your team to experiment and explore creative solutions. In competitive landscapes, innovation is not just a choice; it's a strategic necessity for sustainable growth and relevance.



Your insights on innovation have been invaluable. For our audience who wants to stay updated with your innovative endeavors, where can they connect with you or follow your work?





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