A conversation with Gregory Gray
CEO & Founder of Summit Communication Group
I’ve always been drawn to emotional archeology. I feel privileged to work with clients on projects in pursuit of truth and a higher aim. Seeking a more profound truth than what the facts deliver is at the heart of everything I’m about.
Society seems to be in a malaise of doubt and dismay. We seem confused by fears, doubts, anxieties and ghosts of our past – but lacking a compelling vision for a better future. We’re living through a generation of liberal progressives who have a deep feeling that power has moved away from them, yet they run out of steam quickly and can’t offer any alternative.
Culture has become a smokescreen. People have fallen prey to a few social platforms belonging to tech entrepreneurs who are really just in the business of selling advertising – by keeping people glued through irresponsible algorithms. The ubiquity and insatiability of social media has put our collective consciousness under enormous pressure and strain.
Media got caught up in the clickbait madness in a desperate attempt to stay relevant with the masses. It should have taken a higher ground position, but it didn’t. As a consequence, most news organisations seem to be more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public. I think this is less-so the case in Australia, where the pursuit of being objective and non-partisan is very strong.
Great stories don’t go out of fashion. In fact, Reporters Without Borders, an international nonprofit whose aim is safeguarding the right to freedom of information, ranked Australia ahead of both the United Kingdom and United States on its press freedom list in 2020, which is an extraordinary achievement. Stories are our primary way of making sense of the world, I believe it’s time for the next chapter in Australia’s grand narrative…
If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.
Australia needs a national ambition. Our alliances with Britain and the US have been always been strong and will continue to be good for this country. But it’s time for Australia to find its national ambition – and make an impact on the world. This will require leadership, skillful diplomacy abroad and ambitious policies at home. We need confidence and trust in Australia. And its extraordinary capacity to communicate on a world stage.
I grew up with filmmakers as my heroes. Orson Welles taught me how to paint with words. Nic Roeg showed me how to rethink the sequence of time. But it was the way Stanley Kubrick worked on his films that helped hone my skill of quantitive reasoning. This is how I add value to my clients. I specialize in synthetizing a lot of ideas and information, which then gets reduced and refined to an authentic result.
If you look at our most successful clients they are CEOs and Founders who find meaning in what they do and what they pursue. This cascades into the fabric of their culture and the stakeholders who inhabit it. When this shines through to the outside world, it forges more meaningful connections with customers, potential clients, investors, the media and new opportunities emerge. There’s beauty in this dynamic, they become a story worth sharing.
I don’t think I’m naturally creative. I’m a discerner and curator of exceptional ideas, who along with my team, find ways to communicate them effectively and with integrity.
Every business should have the goal of becoming a brand. Whether you’re selling a Rolls-Royce Phantom or Toothpaste, the value must always exceed the price someone is willing to pay. Business leaders who turn talk into action earn trust. Trust builds value. When trust is high for clients, we recommend the decisive action to create a catalytic moment in time for growing their platform. This enhances reputations significantly. A great reputation is the only way to transform a business into a brand.
Be regular and ordinary in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.
Don’t impress. Express. When you try to impress someone, you create a gulf. But when you communicate to express yourself or your idea to someone, you build a bridge.
I’ve worn lots of different hats over the years. I’ve been a writer, designer, salesperson, developer, manager and leafleteer. I’ve built, sold, franchised and grown businesses all my life, which has allowed me to buy back my time to spend on what is really important.
Nothing puts fire in your belly like having children. It gives you focus and determination. I have four. All girls! They are all healthy, beautiful and spirited. I have unwavering confidence that each will continue to contribute to my financial ruin. I could not be luckier!
The world is what we make it. The pandemic has put trust to the test. During this time business has become more trusted than government. It has shown us we must not only drive sales and progress reputation, but we must also grow trust in the companies we support, while instilling confidence in the institutions that form the framework of our society.
Human beings have a primitive desire to share a common dream. PR, marketing and communication make it possible to transport stories that magnify our shared experience. To be the manufacturer of ‘common dreams’ and to occupy a space in collective memory, I think is the greatest profession in the world.
Life may be short, but art is long. There’s a brilliant quote by David Graeber, he said: “The ultimate hidden truth of the world is that it is something we make and could just as easily make differently”.
Discipline is freedom. Let’s move.
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