The PR Industry Versus Cannes Lions — Our Saga Continues
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The PR Industry Versus Cannes Lions — Our Saga Continues

What should we actually want from the Cannes PR Lions winners?

The PR Industry Versus Cannes Lions — Our Saga Continues

The sun is out, the office is uber busy and we're all crawling hands and knees towards our Summer breaks. It must be time for the Cannes Lions. The great and the good of the creative and marketing industries, have once again gathered in Cannes — adding a touch of low brow wheeling and dealing to the chic landscape.

As is our tradition, Ogilvy Public Relations will be hosting a debate on Wednesday morning for the PR industry reps in Cannes, to discuss the results of the PR Lions. Who has or importantly hasn't won, do we agree with the award winners? Is PR still under represented at Cannes? Are we still moaning that PR really is creative and the advertising industry just don’t understand us?

This year we'd like a non-Cannes view, yours. At around 9.30pm (CEST) tomorrow night (following the PR Lions awards), the Holmes Report will be sharing a very short survey asking for your favourite Lions winners (closing 8.30am CEST on Wednesday 24th) — these views will then become the basis of our industry discussions.

Now in its seventh year, the Cannes PR Lions has always been a 'bit' controversial. Having judged, won, commented on and attended every ceremony since year one, I hope the resulting commentary moves on this year. I'll be surprised if there is a greater proportion of PR agencies entering or winning the awards than last year and frankly I don't really care. The purpose of this category and all the Cannes Lions is a celebration of creativity — PR is creative and is an essential part of the best creative and effective campaigns (even if unwittingly).

The question we should be asking ourselves is not ‘are we creative?’ or, ‘are we under represented?’ We should be asking if the winning campaigns are truly reflective of the best use of our discipline; public relations working in an integrated way, making our clients and partners become even better and more effective.

Working at an agency that is as integrated as any, the best work I see is integrated work. But what has become so obvious to me recently is the total misunderstanding of what integration actually looks like for PR agencies. By that, I don’t mean what agencies say, I’m referring to what they actually do.

Effective integration is not when your consumer practice works with your corporate team (too many agencies laud this as a success). Real integration is working with a core insight and co-constructing a campaign with all the creative, technological, insightful and innovative talent a brand/client can muster – including its customers and fans. Building seamless brilliance and aligned storytelling within an ecosystem is what all clients are looking for and consumers want – this is the real power of PR as the glue for modern integration.

Therefore what should we actually want from the Cannes PR Lions winners? We want creative storytelling, based in human insights that give the brand a role and relevance in the lives of its audience, predominantly demonstrating the tools of the earned discipline. And importantly achieves a BAHG (big audacious hairy goal).

Who cares who delivers these – whoever is doing it brilliantly, is doing our technical discipline proud. I believe the change in the entry rules last year to allowing multiple partner entries was positive and reflects the changing nature of our industry. I hope this year sees winners as impressive as the integrated Grand Prix winner of 2014 — CAA and Edelman’s 'The Scarecrow' campaign and the Gold Lions-winning Memac Ogilvy’s 'The Autocomplete Truth' campaign for United Nations Women.

I acknowledge I am but one voice in this with my own opinions. We are an industry of talented people and extraordinary thinkers with opinions abounds. So please take a moment on Tues evening to take part in our survey. The industry is changing, which is why at this particularly ‘moment in time’ it is even more important to take that temperature check. So share your thoughts, maybe I’m wrong? Who should be winning at Cannes this year? Go on. You know your itching to tell us. 

Michael Frohlich is COO of Ogilvy PR EMEA and CEO of Ogilvy PR London.
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