Florian Hohenauer is Managing Director Strategy for Hotwire in Germany. We spend a day in his life and talk everything from Neil Gaiman to quantum physics and even a bit of PR.
You can find Florian on LinkedIn here. Let’s get into it…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Florian Hohenauer: I help innovation succeed. Hotwire is a communications consultancy. We work with innovative challenger brands and big companies that need to innovate to become or to stay successful. This always requires the buy-in of those affected by it. It’s my job to win this buy-in for our clients.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Florian Hohenauer: I am Managing Director and in charge of evolving our service portfolio. My partner in crime since June 2019 is Co-Managing Director Ute Hildebrandt. She just took over responsibility for the business side of things in our two offices in Munich and Frankfurt with a total staff of 30.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Florian Hohenauer: Curiosity is key. Be a nerd, keep scouting for new technologies, always. What can be more exciting?
Does it keep you up at night because Qubits can have several states at the same time and, on top of it, can be entangled with other Qubits far away – and you don’t have a clue how this is even possible? (Don’t worry, even quantum scientists don’t fully understand that, which is a shame, right?) Do you follow the advancements of #AI technology and desperately look forward to the advent of truly immersive VR? Then innovation communications might just be the right job for you.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Florian Hohenauer: I take a first look at Twitter while still in bed. If anything relevant has happened in the world, Twitter has it. More Twitter and LinkedIn – we got such as boost in activity in the German timeline about two years ago – on the commute and maybe a little bit of PokemonGo (only those who persist will catch’em all!).
Monday is agency breakfast, then management planning sessions, a lot of talking to national and international prospects and clients, developing strategies and creative ideas alike. Social selling is hot now, as sales professionals need to build communication skills, too.
Then lunch (“If you don’t eat, you die,” is what a former trainee turned strategy director used to say) and back to work, marketing for Hotwire activities, sometimes lunch and learns, often out there, meeting interesting people, networking, learning.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Florian Hohenauer: I love it when our programmes work. When we designed thought leadership campaigns for our clients LinkedIn or McAfee for example, and they take off – in nationals and business press as well as beyond that. I also hugely enjoy working with international clients, getting viewpoints and input from our US and UK clients for example and developing great things together.
What sucks? Budget constraints, low trust clients (yes, you get those, too) – but in general I don’t like complaining. Most of the time you have it in your own hands to make things great.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Florian Hohenauer: Revenue and new business goals of course, a net promoter score for employees, satisfaction rates for client pulse checks and many sub goals and KPIs connected to these. My most important personal KPIs: Seeing that my colleagues are doing well. I have accompanied many careers and it always makes me proud and happy when people prosper and grow, within Hotwire but also elsewhere, and I know I might have contributed a little.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Florian Hohenauer: Books really. I find them via Twitter and LinkedIn, or via very smart colleagues. As an innovation communicator, I recommend Geoffrey A. Moore’s “Crossing the Chasm” – we give it to any new employee – he explains perfectly how revolutionary technologies are adopted by the market. Read Clayton Christensen to understand what “disruption” really is. Read Kahneman to get an idea about human decision-making and our inherent biases. Read up on AI. Read Asian authors, i.e. Kai-Fu Lee’s “AI superpowers”, to get an idea of what is going on over there. Try “The Singularity is Near” by Kurzweil to get a glimpse into the future. Read sci-fi (Liu Cixin has some crazy ideas, and humour), read fiction, listen to the master storyteller himself in this masterclass. Never stop exploring.
How did you end up at Hotwire, and where might you go from here?
Florian Hohenauer: I started my career at Hotwire in 2003, after internships in tech – a web consultancy in Boston, very smart MIT guys and lots of sushi, before the dotcom bubble burst – and communications, e.g. for SEAT in Barcelona.
Hotwire was an attractive brand already back then, with Blackberry as a high growth client. I left for Munich in 2006 and re-joined Hotwire on Brendon Craigie’s initiative. He changed the culture of the agency quite a bit, listened, was open for ideas and entrepreneurship, and so I agreed to open the Hotwire Munich office. Go from here? I am not quite done yet with building a fantastic agency in Germany. If I ever feel I am, then it would have to be another business focussed on innovation.
Which campaigns have impressed you lately?
Florian Hohenauer: An AI wrote the script for a Lexus TV ad. It was fed award winning car ads and came up with the story all by itself. What I am even more impressed about are two different kinds of campaigns: In Germany, there is a youth movement called “Fridays For Future”, students who go protest for climate action every single Friday. They managed to bring the climate catastrophe to the very top of the agenda in Germany.
A second kind of campaign I admire is international and has several loosely connected actors. I am talking about Sleeping Giants, active mainly in the US, or Stop Funding Hate, active mainly in the UK, who are both driving awareness for (programmatic) advertising gone wrong. They basically flag it to brands once they spot ads next to racist or extremist content and ask them if it was placed there on purpose.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out in 2019?
Florian Hohenauer: Kick off building your personal brand right from the start – what proof point that you get marketing could be more credible? Use everything that LinkedIn can offer you, do get on Twitter immediately and follow the thought leaders in your industry, there are no better sources of knowledge and inspiration.
Look out for any of those great platforms, e.g. the Cannes Young Lions competition that anyone can enter, go to networking events, there is always this one amazing conversation you’ll have. Look out for mentors, ask for advice, and enjoy working with the most powerful tool on earth: communications.