Pilot PMR hires a CD

Illustrator and Torontoist founder Sarah Lazarovic joins the PR and branding agency as its first creative director.

Toronto-based PR and branding agency Pilot PMR has hired Sarah Lazarovic as creative director.

While Pilot already has a staff of art directors and graphic designers, Lazarovic is the first to hold a creative director position at the agency.

“Sarah’s hire is really a period on a sentence [more] than it is the start of something new,” says David Doze, president and CEO of Pilot PMR. “It’s to take that next step to continually build the strength of the team. I feel like the body of work we have is at a point where now is the time to continue to evolve that, and having this role will continue to up our game and bolster a lot of the strength we already have.”

In 2004, Lazarovic founded city blog Torontoist and acted as its first editor. In 2006, she left to join CBC as a senior web producer on The Hour, helping to redesign and relaunch the show’s website. In 2010, she co-directed the romantic comedy No Heart Feelings. As an illustrator, her work has appeared in the National Post, Toronto Star and Maclean’s and she released her graphic memoir A Bunch of Pretty Things I Did Not Buy last year. She recently concluded a one-year fellowship at Massey College, studying behavioural insights and consumer behaviour at the Rotman School of Management and environmental sustainability at the School of the Environment.

“She brings creative abilities as an illustrator or filmmaker that we haven’t had in house before that could come into play,” Doze says, noting that Pilot prefers to nurture skills in-house as opposed to bringing in outside consultants or talent. “But it’s her creative mind above all. If you present her with a problem, she can give you a lot of wide-ranging takes on a solution very quickly. Her work as a Massey Fellow brings a lot of rigor and expertise to her work as well.”

Hiring outside of the agency world isn’t new for Pilot. Siri Agrell, one of the agency’s vice-presidents, was formerly an urban affairs reporter for the Globe & Mail and a deputy director of communications for Ontario premiere Kathleen Wynne.

“We hired [Agrell] because she had a deep understanding of how to sort through complicated ideas and turn them into things that are highly consumable, entertaining and interesting,” Doze says. “That’s where media folks have had to go in the current landscape, so they’re a great source, potentially, for an agency like ours.”

While many PR agencies are looking to produce more creative content as part of their services, Doze says Pilot was built on the idea of narrative, calling itself a “story design agency” that uses whatever assets, from content to web development, that it needs to tell an interesting story for its clients.

“The difference today, in the connected world, is that narrative has become a multi-disciplinary activity, so what we’ve built is a multi-disciplinary team that is capable of taking an idea, brand or product and advance it holistically,” Doze says. “We consciously pick really great people with a narrative or media background, and Sarah is the next phase of advancing that history and applying it to the work we do.”