30 Under 30: Kirsten Walkom

The future of Canada’s marketing industry will be shaped by its youngest talent—the super-worldly, plugged-in, brilliant and creative youth who are already making a name for themselves. Marketing put out the call to the industry to find the top 30 standouts under the age of 30 who have already made their mark on the industry. […]

The future of Canada’s marketing industry will be shaped by its youngest talent—the super-worldly, plugged-in, brilliant and creative youth who are already making a name for themselves. Marketing put out the call to the industry to find the top 30 standouts under the age of 30 who have already made their mark on the industry.

From PR to advertising to media and beyond, our 30 Under 30 showcases the smartest, bravest and most creative ones to watch in the business.

Kirsten Walkom, 28

Senior consultant, Maverick Public Relations

What do PR and psychological warfare have in common? Quite a bit, according to Kirsten Walkom. As someone who studied terrorism and counter-terrorism at Queen’s University (where the psychological aspect appealed to her more than armoury) then zigzagged her way into a PR career after a stint in a law firm’s marketing department, Walkom says her Jack Bauer-esque schooling set her up well for the PR battleground.

Take her thesis on how the FBI used psychological warfare to undermine the KKK and the Black Panthers by creating mistrust amongst members; it taught Walkom the power of communications and that “words could solve almost anything… I know that no matter what the issue or problem is, there is a solution and it’s 95% because of how it’s communicated.”

Walkom also applied her psychology training to advertising while she was with Henderson Bas Kohn as the in-house PR manager and an interactive strategist. Working on successful campaigns for clients such as Coca-Cola and Joe Fresh, Walkom says, “It was ‘How are we going to get you to buy this product?’ It’s all psychological.”

So is the ability to read a room—a valuable skill that Martin McInally, Maverick’s senior vice-president, corporate affairs, appreciates. Not just anyone can pick up and successfully act on the nuances during strategy sessions, but Walkom does, he says.

It’s not a teachable skill, but Walkom is generous about coaching others on succeeding in the trade. She helped launch Maverick’s mentor program and, as McInally says, “She’s great at not just directing people to do things, but explaining why to do them in a certain way; if she changes things, she goes out of her way so that people know her thought process behind it, which is really important.”

Those skills have had a noticeable impact. “She helped completely change the face of the corporate practice here at Maverick,” says McInally. “Kirsten understands strategy and how to turn it into tactical products we can use with our clients.”

So while she didn’t end up protecting against terrorists, she will protect the hell out of a brand.

For lots more of the 30 Under 30, pick up the Sept. 10 issue of Marketing magazine.

Photo: Mike Ford

Advertising Articles

Ads You Must See: We all scream for Snickers

Snickers gets clever about online anger and unleashes a deafening scream

PepsiCo and InterCon Hotels execs embrace ‘The Many’

C2 Montréal invites brands to discuss how they're putting consumers in charge

Wonderbra pushes modern look in new campaign

77-year-old brand aims to attract new consumers with fresh imagery

On The Move: Hires at Ketchum, Shikatani Lacroix, Embr

A weekly update of who's headed where in Canadian marketing and communications

How Google’s ‘agency for agencies’ tells brand stories

The managing director for The Zoo opens up at C2 Montréal

CBC unveils 2016-2017 broadcast and digital lineups

Public broadcaster adds an animated series, a daytime talk show and more

Floating hospital campaigns for support

Mercy Ships Canada launches its first-ever agency-led awareness and fundraising effort

AmEx influencer campaign travels north of expectations

Social and acquisition teams band together for the company's latest campaign

Shinola’s expansion into Canada gets a PR boost

Detroit-based manufacturer looks to settle in Toronto with help from ASC Public Relations