I’m honored to serve as the 11th President of the PR jury at the 2019 Cannes Lions Festival and to represent the industry at this year’s event. I firmly believe it’s time for our industry to take back the craft of PR and lead the charge at this year’s festival. PR is a craft and not a channel, and one that increasingly matters – to businesses, brands and society at large.
The marketing world knows that our craft matters now more than ever, because demanding attention is no longer enough; earning attention is now essential. We see this play out in the Cannes jury rooms, where ideas with an earned mindset always win big across multiple categories. The jury and I will be awarding work that demonstrates our best craft, from wherever it comes.
But winning metal in any category is a numbers game, and the PR industry must be in it with the right work to win it. Our industry has an unparalleled opportunity to take on a bigger role with senior marketing clients. But to do that, the industry needs to understand marketing and brands and know how to create scalable ideas that come from clear insights. We need to move faster, as other disciplines know that our craft matters, and some have our playbook.
The craft of PR has evolved from distributing brilliant advertising ideas, to creating content, to now generating the idea. We merge art and research science to build ideas that have optimal earned story potential. The work is rooted deep within popular culture because we understand what people care about most. And we don’t stop until we discover a human truth to ignite a great story.
Tapping our heritage in earned media and news-cycle storytelling, we then use our deep understanding of the power of influence to create campaigns that can navigate and travel the media ecosystem – across platforms like social, search and curators, and publishers like influencers, media and owned channels.
Our currency is ideas that are contagious and can build trust, create fame and manage reputations. They are original, unique, and more times than not, unexpectant.
In Cannes we will celebrate work displaying a purposeful use of this kind of PR craft in the idea. Ideas created with PR as input, not just output. Ideas that are earned at the core, designed to earn media, attention and influence. Ideally work of scale and impact, as much as of creative brilliance. Work that has a real and measurable impact.
First, in an always-on world, business now recognizes that brand and corporate reputation are intrinsically linked; protecting a brand is now as important as promoting it. The craft of PR can accomplish both.
Second, belief-driven buying is now mainstream. Customers are turning to businesses and their brands as their champions—to join them in taking a stand on the issues that matter in their lives. Whether it’s operating with purpose, connecting with a relevant moment in culture or taking a leap into activism, resolute brands that make a stand have never been more necessary.
This is the new craft of PR, helping businesses evolve and take action. More than just story-telling, this is story-doing, driving trust and value for all.
Here’s to a great celebration of this work and the PR craft at Cannes in 2019.
Michelle Hutton is managing director, Global Client Strategy.