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PR Profile: Joanne Painter on integrated marketing and leadership in PR

30 June, 2022

Joanne Painter is the Group Managing Director and Co-Founder of Icon Agency, a strategic creative communications, PR and digital agency. 

Congratulations on Icon Agency’s PR Awards Asia award for integrated marketing. Can you tell me a bit about the winning campaign? 

"We've been working for four years on the communications and marketing for Expo 2020 Dubai Australia Pavilion. The Expo was the biggest world fair ever. It was held in Dubai over about six months from October last year to March this year. We were appointed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade four years ago now to run the marketing and communications in partnership with Acorn Strategy to promote Australia's presence at expos. The Australia Pavilion I think, out of around 200 countries, became regularly in the top 10 visited at the expo, some of the highest footfalls of any pavilion. So that was a big achievement. (LOWRES)ICONHEADSHOTS210421_0041

“We are an integrated agency, we are very much that sort of modern face of communications and marketing, where you're multi-channel, multi-platform.”

What exactly do you mean by ‘integrated’? 

“Integrated is different from full-service. Our approach is very channel neutral. So we'll get a briefing like the expo, and the brief is 'put Australia on the world map'. We'll look at the best, the optimal mix of creativity, communications and tactical channel, so paid, earned, owned and shared, to achieve that.  So we're not particularly fussed on whether it's a purely creative solution, or whether it's a purely PR solution. Our model is around 'what's the best way to get the outcome for the clients?’. 

“In our business we've got big digital capabilities, we've got large PR teams, we've got a creative team, so we're a full service agency. Integrated simply refers to the way in which you approach briefs and that sort of multi-channel, multi-platform capability. Icon is really renowned for doing campaigns that cross lots of boundaries. So it's quite an interesting business model.” 

You mention being ‘adapted to disruptive forces’ on your website — is this part of having an integrated model? 

“The integrated model recognises that the media landscape is constantly changing. The fight for attention, let alone real behaviour change in such a fragmented marketplace calls for a collaborative approach across the whole user journey.” 

You were also awarded the PR Awards Asia 2022 ‘PR Agency Head of the Year’. Do you have any leadership advice for people in the PR and marketing industries specifically? 

“The key to longevity in this day and age is around three things. [The first is] being curious, always thinking 'what's the next frontier, what is the next disruption that's going to reshape the industry?' So for example we've developed a chat-bot, we're investing in AI, we're skilling up, we're doubling down on things like digital marketing. So that's the first one, be curious and constantly test your business, constantly challenge yourself: 'what is the newest thing I need to know about?' Sometimes you're right, sometimes you're wrong. 

“The second thing is to be really brave. I think you do need to be prepared to take calculated risks. 

“I think the other big thing is it's really important to give back to industry or your community. So staying on top of the trends and the demands. In the years that I've been managing my business, it's changed completely. The business is completely different to what it was 20 years ago.”

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