Inside the PR Lions jury

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With temperatures hovering around 30 degrees centigrade and no serious infrastructure for air-conditioning here, my pre-planned Cannes wardrobe remains packed in my bags, while my credit card is taking a walk down the boulevard for clothes that are lighter, airier!

Similarly, over 1700 entries already rated by us in pre-arrival sessions, remained on the table, as our discussions stargazed on some basic yet deep questions: What exactly qualifies as a PR campaign? Does short-term success qualify as well as long-term impact? Does social impact rank higher than commercial success? How do we really appreciate local cultural context, and then compare it with universally relatable emotions?

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Jury duty is inspiring. Cannes is invigorating. If only the temperatures were lower, inside the jury room, as well as outside.

At the end of two days, we had some of these questions answered (or at least discussed, sans conclusions), and the shortlisting process suddenly fell into place. As they say, if you spend more time on the problem, the solution will fall into place quickly!

Anyway, here are my first, and probably lasting impressions and considerations for the PR Lions:

At the heart of every great campaign there is creativity, which has direct impact on business outcomes or stated objectives. But if the impact isn’t clearly articulated for us, it’s a no show. If you can’t communicate clearly with the captive audience of a Jury, we’re not sure how you did out there!

The we’re all seeing in the PR Lions entries isn’t creativity – it’s super-creativity! There is some really mindboggling thinking on display, and dazzling execution shared with us.

A lot of the work is inspiring, to think this is the work of ‘our industry’. A lot of the work is humbling, even for us veterans and leaders of the industry – for it is gutsy yet so disarming; out of the box yet steeped in real insights; creative yet so relatable; and unforeseen yet totally satisfying in terms of results!

I dare say, this is scary even, because it exposes a lot of our daily work as average, and sets the bar even higher for us.

The success stories shared drive home the reality that the days of campaigns based on press conferences and press releases (which we in India still love) are dead and buried!

‘Public Relations’ is about strategic engagement and higher purpose. Success in PR comes from conviction in your cause, and bravery in communication.

Insights have to be at the core of everything we do. Weak insights dull campaigns, but sharp insights give you the edge, clearly.

Ideas are relatively easy to come up with. But it is the craft, the finesse the maturity, and depth of execution that makes campaigns stand out, and be successful.

Campaigns that have an emotional story well told simply stand out.

In my opinion, the sustainability of an idea or campaign across time and space (at least in an socio or economic era) is a good way to gauge how much to invest in it, and expect out of it.

Radhika-Shapoorjee-150x150In summary, as I tweeted the other day – Creativity, Insights, Emotion, Storytelling, Flawless Execution, Impact, Higher Purpose, Sustainability. That’s (what) all it takes. To win. At CannesLions. And in our markets.

Radhika Shapoorjee is South Asia president at H+K Strategies.

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