Paul Wilmot Communications

Hampton Carney, Managing Partner & CEO

Among the many people that will be inspired by Hampton Carney's story, those with dreams to rise up the ranks at their agency or organization will come away more motivated than ever. We spoke with Hampton about his career to date, from joining Paul Wilmot Communications as an AE to his current position as Managing Partner and CEO of the renowned agency. He also shared his insights on the PR industry's evolution and how to stay on the pulse of the still-changing landscape.   

You joined PWC in opening the agency as an account executive; can you share your career trajectory leading up to the role of CEO?

One of the pivotal moments in my early career was the opportunity the agency provided to me to spearhead the launch of Sean John by Sean Combs: being able to participate in strategy from the inception of what would become a men’s fashion brand known around the world. The experience allowed me to learn how to communicate across the different channels of media, from entertainment, fashion, and celebrity to pop culture. During that same period, I worked with a fine Swiss watch company as they repositioned in the U.S. market, which was the beginning of my focused expertise in the watch industry.

Did you have any mentors or people who inspired you throughout your career?

Paul Wilmot taught me the ins and outs of media, including strategy, relationship building, and the art of the exclusive. Kal Ruttenstein was Sr. VP of Fashion Direction at Bloomingdale’s and he introduced me to some of the biggest names in fashion, supported so many of my clients at the time by attending fashion shows and provided his insightful advice. Sean Puffy Combs & Jeff Tweedy, President of Sean John… they helped launch my career and opened doors beyond my reach at the time.

How has the PR business changed since you started out? Where do you see it evolving to, and how are you future proofing the business?

The biggest change we have all seen in the industry is the rapid shift to digital and the emergence of new channels through which younger generations are receiving information. We’ve had to adapt our strategies to reach them.

We are constantly evolving and figuring out ways to communicate through new emerging digital platforms. We just started working with the livestream platform YouNow where we will be executing live events for clients across all our disciplines.

What we've believed from the beginning and what we will always remain focused on is the creation of news, newness, and compelling storytelling. To us this is the greatest value we can provide to our clients and to the media we are trying to court and excite so its irresistible to write about the brands we represent.

Tell us about the company’s decision to launch a cannabis division.

We witnessed the growth of the CBD industry and were following the state level legislation as more and more legalized recreational use of Marijuana. We wanted to apply our years of brand experience from luxury to beauty and mass brands to this exciting market. We knew we could add value to brands both from a public relations and branding point of view.

How has the pandemic impacted your business? Have there been any big changes to your offerings or team that you’re embracing and plan to keep?

Like so many agencies of our size, the pandemic negatively impacted our topline growth immediately, and we worked with clients to keep them with us no matter what we had to sacrifice. We never stopped pushing forward and in almost every case delivered impressions that met or exceeded 2019.

What keeps you inspired and engaged professionally?

I love the creative side of the business. I enjoy having a seat at the client’s table at the onset of a launch and collaboration so we can provide the idea that gives it the news angle.

What have been some of your greatest learnings in your career?

Don’t lose sleep.

What advice would you impart for industry peers looking to thrive in the post-pandemic times ahead?

Be nice, be patient, know that everyone has gone through a year without precedent and as we return to normal, let’s not forget what we’ve been through and have overcome.


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