Yes We Cannes

This week I found myself debating with various global agency heads what the PR industry should do about the Cannes Lions.

The Cannes Lions festival is the annual calendar highlight to showcase agency creativity.

11,000+ senior delegates from 90 countries celebrate the best work, while attending the jam-packed seminar programme to network with contacts new and old.

Once exclusively the playground for ad agencies, it has become a melting pot of marketing disciplines.

All the big media networks, digital consultancies and direct agencies have a major presence.

As do all the tech companies.

But one industry has always been a little underrepresented in Cannes.

And guess which it is…?

The PR industry.

That is the reason for the discussions.

Why is PR not having an impact at Cannes?

And what can be done to change this?

PR has become one of the rising stars in marketing and comms.

Content and earned media are the hot topics.

Yet few PR agencies are coming to Cannes to have the conversation.

Not enough are entering their best work into the awards.

And other disciplines are seizing the opportunity.

This year around half of Cannes Lions awards for PR were given to ad agencies.

And that needs to change.

The good news is that things are starting to happen beyond the debate.

It’s not quite a groundswell yet.

But potentially the start of one.

The global voice of the PR industry, ICCO, took a very visible space at the entrance of the festival to fly the flag on behalf of the industry.

Senior practitioners from global PR networks took on a big advocacy role for the industry; notably Michael Frohlich from Ogilvy and David Gallagher from Ketchum.

Edelman sent 50 people from across its network to attend, with Richard Edelman himself picking up the prestigious Grand Prix prize along the way.

And this is helping put PR on the map.

But it’s not enough.

Cannes represents a major opportunity for the entire PR industry to elevate its status.

It has the potential to showcase the strategic impact, creativity and effectiveness of the work that is done.

It can help PR to cement its position at the top of the table.

But it’ll take more than just one agency to make this happen.

The entire PR industry needs to work together to achieve this.

PR needs to start viewing Cannes in the same way as their adland brethren do – as the ultimate showcase of work.

That means entering more awards; and getting better at submissions.

Getting PR people onto the main stage to shape the thinking.

Sending the best people from across PR spectrum to attend.

And encouraging clients and suppliers to come too.

PR has a big story to tell and never has it been a better time to do this than now.

There is no bigger platform to do this than at Cannes.

It was great this year, but can be even better in 2015.

I hope I’ll see you there.

Written by Adam Clyne, MD of TVC International. 
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