Charting the future of public relations
The PR world at Cannes 2013
Arun Sudhaman
Holmes Report
President/Editor-in-Chief

The PR world at Cannes 2013

Arun Sudhaman

The Cannes Lions Festival gets underway this weekend, bringing with it the usual mix of cutting-edge creativity, conspicuous consumption and agency narcisissm. For the fifth year running, ever since the Festival allowed those barbaric PR types through the gates, the Holmes Report will be chronicling events on the Croissette. This will, of course, include the awards programme, where the PR industry will dearly hope that it can finally take top honours in the category that bears its name. Once again, it will face some specific challenges, in a category that often seems set up to recognize broad marketing and advertising campaigns that also include a conversational element. The idea that PR agencies cannot produce this type of work and, just as importantly, package it within an appealing entry video, will hopefully be debunked in 2013. Last year's Cannes Lions also provided the impetus for our landmark Creativity in PR global study. We will launch the survey again after this year's festival. Beyond the awards, though, what is typically of more appeal is the Festival programme, whether the officially-sanctioned events or the numerous 'fringe' discussions that punctuate the week. These can feature some of the sharpest minds from the marketing industries, discussing the kinds of issues - collision, data and creativity - that are hallmarks of the Holmes Report's continued coverage of the integration of marketing and PR. While its involvement in Cannes has grown, the PR industry still remains relatively underexposed across these events. Given the sheer density of senior client-side marketing talent, which affords a unique chance to make a stronger case for PR's central brand-building role, this is probably a missed opportunity. Of note are the following PR-related events, please do get in touch or comment below if I have missed any out. And, of course, do drop me a line if you'd like to meet. The only PR firms on the main seminar programme are the UK's Good Relations Group, although their event takes place on Sunday at noon. Still, it looks compelling, and features CEO Jackie Brock-Doyle explaining the lessons learned from her successful oversight of the London 2012 Olympics' communications programme. Other PR firms are active at various workshops and forums. MSLGroup is teaming up with MaryLee Sachs' Changing MO firm on Monday to explore how CMOs find and foster talent. And GolinHarris will reprise its excellent workshop on finding a brand's authentic voice on Thursday. Ketchum EMEA CEO and PR Lions jury head David Gallagher, meanwhile, is taking part in the Creative for Good session on Friday, unveiling an online platform for campaigners who want to learn from great social marketing campaigns. Beyond the main programme, Weber Shandwick is running a discussion that looks interesting on Tuesday morning, focusing on realtime marketing. The Holmes Report is also running an event with Ketchum on Tuesday afternoon, while I'm informed that Havas PR will be convening sessions at its Havas Cafe location during the week. UPDATE: Also worth noting is MSLGroup's usage of its Story Stream Lab platform to curate realtime conversations about Cannes Lions.
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