This is my second year at the Cannes Festival of Creativity.
I am leaving the South of France with my mind open and feeling challenged and refreshed. My notebook’s pages are filled with new thoughts and ideas, and I have a renewed energy to get back home and put what I have learned into action with our global Zenoids and clients. I also have a few stunning tomato and truffle food photos to remind me of the great meals and conversations I enjoyed on the cobblestone streets of Cannes. The Festival was not without controversy around how PR firms fared in the PR Lions – in fact, there was much discussion on which PR agencies made the short list, which did not and how many PR Lions were won relative to the overwhelming number of ad agency wins. However, I am a firm believer that debate and disruption is a good thing. We owe that to our clients and ourselves. Hopefully remembering and reflecting on these heated conversations will make us all double down more on the art and science of our craft, and, frankly, also be prouder than ever to call ourselves PR professionals.
Didn’t somebody once say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery? The truth is more and more ad agencies have come over to our so-called ‘side,’ leveraging the power of PR, earned media and influence that we have always believed in and ascribed to. To be clear, we collaborate every day with many great advertising firms that are our close partners in delivering work for clients that harnesses our collective expertise. However, as one news outlet put it, “Ad agencies have parked their tanks on the PR lawn.” You can be sure this gets my always-on competitive juices overflowing. In some ways it is a great affirmation of what we have always known. Perhaps it’s also ‘hats off’ to them for taking a bite out of our PR world.
As PR Lion Jury Chair John Clinton put it, “What we were ultimately looking for were things that had an idea that could grow earned attention – not things that demanded attention, things that earned attention. And because they earned attention, they were able to get the results they were going after.”
With our heritage in earned storytelling and all that goes with that – advocacy, influence, CSR, employee engagement, issues management and more – we are better positioned than ever to shape and share clients stories across multiple platforms in ways that move people to action and earn their loyalty and engagement. We as PR firms have been competing against non-PR firms – ad agencies, digital shops, etc. – for a number of years now. And this will only continue with the ‘shoot-outs’ becoming even more hotly contested. We will embrace this and go after it with all of our fearless spirit, leading the way as the ultimate authority on how to best unleash the power and potential of earned media and storytelling.
We cannot cede our position as a trusted business and communications advisor to the CEO, COO and CMO on matters of brand building and corporate. This holds especially true in today’s world where relationships, collaborative partnerships, community and peer-to-peer sharing must be front and center when driving engagement and behavior change. The “Creative Effectiveness” Lions category takes a look at the impact of winning Cannes campaigns over three years, and it is one of my favorite categories because it hones in on what really matters. We must continue to push ourselves to come up with the brightest and boldest ideas that will serve our clients better than they could ever imagine – because we most definitely CAN.
Winning awards is gratifying, fun and exciting – there’s no denying that. Bronze, Silver or Gold – who doesn’t want walk across the big stage in front of people who are at the top of their industry? We all do, and we at Zeno are thrilled to have won a PR Bronze Lion for our Netflix client and a Gold Lion together with our agency partners on behalf of Intel.
But the most important judge is the tangible business value our work delivers to clients. When we do this, we have truly won GOLD.