PR Lion jury members Valerie Pinto, CEO of Weber Shandwick in India, and Hannes Kerstell, Partner and Executive Media Director at Prime, talk about their experience as part of this years Festival.
Q: How was Cannes for you?
Hannes: I felt very honoured being part of something that celebrates the best communications in the world, and also shapes the future of our industry. Entries in the PR category were up 12%, as PR is becoming more and more the heart of the comms mix, and the definition of PR is also expanding: we also saw PR-driven campaigns in other categories like Health, Media and Cyber. Cannes this year felt very much like we are in the middle of something big.
Valerie: I agree. The entries were far more rounded than when I’ve judged anywhere else in world. We saw PR agencies going beyond the brief, and taking the lead in a more integrated approach, not just supporting ad campaigns. There were people from all around the world in the room, all with their own definitions of what PR is, but during our discussions we eventually all got to the same level of understanding. It was a big task and a really fulfilling experience.
Q: How useful was it to immerse yourself in such a huge body of world-class work?
Hannes: I’m now almost dividing my life into “ideas strategy results”… I would encourage people to watch and learn from the winning work: studying best practice makes us even better professionals. You need to watch a lot of case studies in a short period of time to get the most out of it.
Valerie: The way people looked at a problem, came up with a creative idea and leveraged it to start conversations that have a larger impact was so inspiring. I keep remembering so many of the entries, and telling people to go and watch certain campaigns.
Q: What were the big themes in the shortlisted and winning work?
Valerie: I think what really stood out for me was user-generated content, and how cleverly the public, not celebrities, are being used to build campaigns. A lot of entries used data to create a story from real people’s experiences to engage people, or used technology, including VR, to create new experiences and as a storytelling tool. It was all well beyond celebrity endorsement.
Hannes: I agree. And to add to that, there was some really interesting use of new technology including VR, not only for fun stuff but also creating valuable solutions that were good for society. The new technology also showed us some new ways of visualising ideas. We also saw a lot of prototypes and experiments that are scalable; if the prototype and experiment was successful the company scaled it up.
Valerie: Yes, we saw lots of examples of responsible selling, beyond what we think of as CSR. It was about big brands becoming more human, relevant and impactful in society.
Hannes: From PR to advertising, communications is becoming a mashup. Integrated work was initially about advertising channels like radio, ads and film, then it was about the mix of earned, paid and owned. Now integration is about stakeholders, employees, customers, opinion leaders, and it’s evolving to being about integration of the client’s departments. As an agency we need to encourage clients to involve R&D and sustainability as well as marketing and communications, and combine all this knowledge to solve business problems.
Q What did you learn from your experience of being a juror?
Hannes: I hadn’t thought about it before, but when we sat and watched and discussed all the entries, it was really interesting to listen to other jurors talking about cultural context and solving client problems in their own countries, with their own insights.
Valerie: I second that: sometimes we struggled to get people around the room to understand cultural nuance. Another key point is that a lot of the judging is based on the video work that we see, and how impactful that video is, how it captures the imagination, how it communicates simply and effectively.
Q: What are your other top tips for success in the PR Lions category at Cannes?
Hannes: At a tactical level, humour and emotion will remain key. Solutions should target several stakeholders, not only the market but also society, employees, and opinion leaders. We also saw that almost all of the winners are now making brands truly relevant to society, and creating real value, including opening up new business opportunities.
Valerie: I would add, always provide some cultural context to the entry, or no-one will get it: you can’t start your story assuming everyone understands your country or the issue at hand. And we need to think about not just solving a communications or even a business problem, but about setting an example to the world at large.
This post first appeared here on the Weber Shandwick EMEA blog.