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A postcard from Cannes, written by Francis Ingham

23rd June 2016


So Cannes comes to a close for another year. The assembled mass of the UK PR industry swings its weight to Nice airport, many of them resolving to go home via a polling station. Pretty much all of them resolving not to drink any more Rose for a good while.

And what are this year's takeouts as our American cousins would say?

The positive are these -there were more PR people present than ever before. Practitioners of every nationality were here, many of them making a home in ICCO's House of PR

More PR agencies entered the awards too, and displayed the most creative of their work to their international peers. The Young Lions competition ICCO hosts was a great showcase of young talent -Ogilvy's American team won Gold; Silver went to Hungary; and the UK's Hotwire took the Bronze. Great results for ICCO and PRCA members.

But let's be realistic. This was not a stunning year for PR in Cannes. We took home fewer bits of metal than last year. Fewer in fact for than quite a while. And as an industry, we have to ask why. And we have to decide what our response is...

Why?

First, we are still simply not as good as the admen at put together video. Maybe that's no great surprise, but in this format, it really matters.

Second, I think they are simply better at boasting about their success -we need to stop being falsely modest.

Third, maybe this year just wasn't our year -there wasn't a 'Like A Girl' campaign. We shouldn't beat ourselves up. Some you win. Some you lose

But..... I hate to lose. And so does our industry. So what's the response?

Well we could just say 'screw it. We are taking home our toys'. We could. But I think that would be wrong.

We need instead to do this: Keep on entering -in fact, enter more. Keep on coming -in fact, be here in 2017 in even bigger numbers. And keep on engaging.

I think the Cannes definition of PR is simply wrong. It references 'reputation': great. It also references 'sway'. Sway? I've never heard that word in any description of our discipline. In fact, in typing this piece, my phone changed it to 'away'. That's how often I've even *written* the word. So we need to engage and change the system.

We also, obviously, need to improve our video skills. That's pretty clear.

One final thing we need to do is this; we need to embrace evaluation. Time and again, jurors cited massive, overwhelming numbers.

Millions and millions of likes and retweets. That mean nothing. Oh yes. And plenty of AVEs.

To make their jobs easier; to improve our winning chances; to make the process more transparent; to make the playing field level with advertising, we need to engage with Cannes to agree some valid, simple metrics. I'll be approaching AMEC to make that engagement a unified one. It will be in all of our interests.

And when we've done those things, we can make sure that our suitcases are so weighed down with trophies that we have to pay great big excess luggage fines.

And on that note, it's time to pack up. To banish the shorts for another year. And to come back to rainy old London Town.

A bientoit!

Article written by Francis Ingham, director general, PRCA,



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