Abe Smith London Calling

Abe Smith: London Calling

Two months ago, together with my family and our dog, I embarked on a journey that was the culmination of professional and personal goals all neatly wrapped together.

This journey actually started more than 25 years ago. At the start of my career, I packed my bags and moved to Asia to live – totally unsure of what the adventure might yield or the outcome.

This quixotic chapter of my life shaped my thinking as a global citizen and kicked off a career that would take me to many different parts of the world. It started me on a mission of connecting cultures, technology and promoting the benefits of disruption, including the impact of cloud technology on business. I’ve experienced markets in transition and that’s been an inspiration, particularly as I arrive in London.

I’m honoured to have the opportunity – and responsibility – to lead Cision at this unique moment. The communications industry is in flux and I know the efficacy of public relations, having grown up as a marketer myself, spending late nights drafting press releases to capture the attention of the media.

My mother and, later, my wife were marketing pros that drew on the craft of comms in both entrepreneurial businesses and as members of large global agencies like McCann Erickson. So, I have witnessed first-hand the impact of well-shaped campaigns. I had also seen the challenges of quantifying what that benefit was exactly.

Fast forward years later, after more than a decade and a half in Silicon Valley, the burgeoning of paid and owned media had clearly crossed the chasm and shown the CMO what was possible and attributable. Look no further than the Marketing LUMAscape – over the past six years, there’s been a shift and there are now more than 5,000 solutions purpose built for the marketer. Yet, by comparison, the communications industry still straddles the past and the present.

I have travelled the world and talked to CMOs – from the corners of Asia to the streets of Bogota and back to the United States. While no one would ever dismiss addressing influencers as important, the Dollars/Yen/Pounds all spoke to investing in things like pay-per-click, open rates in email and social as a channel, to name just a few. Missing from the table, and the budget, has been meaty investments in public relations.

Until now.

Which brings me to London. Two months ago, when I boarded a plane (dog in tow), I knew that the moment was now. As a technologist, I’ve been trained to look for those markets in transition and the clear signs of regions of cresting maturity in a category. Europe, clearly, had all the right signs.

A legacy industry with well-considered processes, practices and programmes. Yet a market with the sense to know that journalists, editors and the new age of influencers think differently. The ability to move economic, political and corporate outcomes through the power of the pen is yielding to the momentum of vlogs, video at large, blogs and words on a digital page. The time for attribution and connection was now and no other place in the world was more prepared to embrace that change, I believed, than Europe and the neighbouring Emerging Markets.

And so I came.

I welcome you all to join me on this journey. The trials, tribulations, good days and, even, the bad days where we all just crave the comfort of a good story are the inevitable emotions we will feel together.

As I share with you my observations, so too tell me what you’re seeing. Let’s shape a new definition of communications with the earned media cloud that beckons. And let’s do it with ambition, some ambivalence, but with the optimism of a new day ahead.

As The Clash so prophetically said, so many years ago, London’s Calling. I’ve heard the Call.

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