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Last month, the csuitepodcast went on location again, this time to Cannes Lions, where I managed to interview 17 highly influential guests over three days, covering a whole range of topics in the communications industry. Thanks to the good people at the International Communications Consultancy Organisation, I based myself at the ‘House of PR’ Cabana on the beach front, which made for a pretty nice setting to produce the podcasts.
First up were Richard Millar, CEO for H+K Strategies UK and Regional President for Europe and his Chief Creative Officer Simon Shaw. We chatted about the brief to their team whilst at the event, and what they hoped to learn from being there themselves. On that note, Simon made the point that Phil Thomas, CEO, Cannes Lions, talked about the rise of B2B clients at Cannes, clients who, according to Simon, traditionally you may not have expected to value creativity so highly becoming more and more relevant and prevalent. He explained that H+K also have clients from China who are looking to move from a culture of making product to one of explaining why they are making that product.
Whilst the event is billed as the ‘International Festival of Creativity’, as expected, data and analytics was high on the agenda and when we discussed this, Richard explained that the make-up of his agency had fundamentally changed over the last two or three years. In fact, he couldn’t remember the last time he interviewed someone with a typical PR background and H+K are now hiring data scientists and more craft-led creatives. However, essentially, he sees the agency as a canvass for a multitude of different skills and passions that they can bring to the benefit of the client who needs to engage with the public. Richard said that H+K has an operating principle inside the agency, which is that they are always in beta, essentially empowering their colleagues to test and pilot new ideas constantly as the world is changing so fast and the agency has to keep up. Another key part of H+K’s culture is the company’s 3P Philosophy, which Simon explained helps their clients perform, but communicate their purpose too. He said that if you combine those two things together, it drives a preference from their consumer, whoever that consumer might be.
The key point that Richard made though is that the PR industry has to claim a greater share of the Lions awards in the future. Given that I was based in the House of PR for the week, I witnessed plenty of debate around this issue, mainly caused by the fact that in the PR category of the Lions, only five of 84 PR Lions were awarded to PR agencies!
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