Why Nothing Matters More in PR than Creativity

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Originally posted on D&AD.

Following the introduction of the new D&AD Professional Awards category for PR, Marian Salzman, CEO of Havas PR, offers some award-winning creative PR examples and tips. She explains why, in the ever-changing landscape of creative communications, PR matters. Continue Reading →

Why Awards Matter to PR

Brad.K

Originally posted on PRWeek.com.

The ever-shifting landscape has brought seismic changes to PR, and now creativity matters more than ever.

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Inside: Havas PR

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Originally posted on the 186.

Time to pop some bottles!

On March 1, Havas PR North America turned 40 years old, marking four decades of transformative solutions, charitable giving, and forward momentum. The global collective is commemorating this major milestone with a yearlong celebration, starting with a pledge to donate $400k in pro bono services to worthwhile organizations.

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The Staff Dreams Are Made Of

Every fall, we’re happy to report more members of our team who have been named among the best in the business. This year, three people named to PR News’ Rising PR Stars 30 and Under list belong to Havas PR North America: Angela Carrasco (Media Director and Multicultural Lead, Havas PR Phoenix), Stephanie Clarke (Associate Vice President, Havas PR Phoenix) and Samantha Wolf (Vice President, Havas PR New York)—tied with Edelman for most representation. In addition, EVP and Director of Corporate and Cause Ravi Sunnak received honorable mention for PR News’ Agency Awe Professional. Congratulations all around.

Our Newest Brand Client: Ourselves

This morning, our agency, our global network and many of our corporate comrades around the world start the day with a clean slate: a new name. It’s part of a worldwide rebranding operation to highlight our unified culture. So now we are Havas PR North America. We’ve got the same excellent people and are doing the same award-winning work, but we have a renewed focus on the future. What else would you expect from the North American agency of the world’s leading public relations and corporate communications collective? Connected + Future First = Havas PR.

Can PR Do Cannes?

Originally posted on Fuel the Future.

It was a big week in Cannes, and I just flew home. From Jacksonville.

So here I am in Connecticut trying to decide if I have Cannes envy after following my friends and colleagues in France on Facebook and Twitter.

But what I’ve decided is that maybe Cannes isn’t the place for PR people. By now, everyone has seen the news that the Grand Prix in the PR category went to Clemenger BBDO Melbourne for its work on a National Australia Bank campaign. It’s the second year in a row that an ad agency won the PR category (last year it was TBWA for Gatorade), and like many of you on the PR side of the fence, I’ve been scratching my head all week as to why ad agencies are dominating the PR category.

In a piece posted on Ad Age’s site, president-CEO of Fleishman-Hillard Dave Senay, who’s also the Cannes jury president, said the jury began with the belief that “excellence and creativity in public relations doesn’t have an address. We’re in an era where the labels matter less and less.” But, continued the article, Senay said this might be a wake-up call to the PR industry: “‘There’s a certain amount of isolationism in our industry,’ he said and the winners will be the ones, no matter what their label, who ‘reach across the disciplines and grasp hands.’”

Yes, we’re living in an era of integration, with the lines between PR and advertising being blurred more than ever, and media becoming the currency in which we sell products and concepts. It’s no longer about a great TV spot or print ad; media is simply transcendent and all-encompassing in our communications-obsessed world.

But I think the ad agency domination comes down to a couple of things: The Cannes criteria and ambience aren’t right for the tighter-constrained, less-hyped, less-packaged PR space. ERWW PR, North America, my agency, withdrew our entry this year because PR agencies don’t have the right assets to compete.

I suggest a wake-up call, too—that people remember what public relations is: earned media. What about earning awards the hardest way? With metrics. Of course, that would mean someone would have to figure out a truly great metrics system…

Photo credit: Flickr/ by fr.zil

Judging the SABRES

Spoiler alert: Don’t worry, Paul Holmes, I will not be revealing any winners in this post.

This Tuesday night, May 11, is the 2009/2010 SABRE Awards. And this year I was privileged to be a judge of four categories: beauty, food, corporate and automotive. Three of the categories I have a fair bit of experience in. The other I must have been chosen for because of my Chrome Hearts T-Nucs and six-year-old Patrick Cox shoes. I digress.

I felt privileged because these are important awards to the industry, focused on tangible PR-driven business results, and because as a new convert to PR, I’m not sure I deserve to be judging anything at this point.

At least that was my thought as I sat down to read my assigned cases.

Having worked across many disciplines now, I always enter a new one with caution. As a rule, I value and respect knowledge and experience.

So I try to understand from the knowledge holders of the day where the game is. What they use to judge success. What experience has taught them. Then I compare that with the landscape outside the discipline, as most people leading a discipline get stuck at a certain point and status quo sets in to their thinking. It is vital that we all remain curious and in constant learning mode (or, as @fefaromano says so elegantly, well before Diesel ever did, “We must stay stupid”) regardless of our seniority. I use this as permission for me to contribute a new point of view to the debate.

Pre-reading the 75 cases I had to adjudicate upon, I found myself, happily, in very familiar terrain. The strategies of the cases were very similar to strategies I know from brand consulting, advertising, digital, internal branding and direct response.

They all started with an understanding of the current situation, highlighted insights they had created upon observing the status quo, moved swiftly to a smart way to articulate the problem, identified a course of action to correct the problem and executed it in a creative, arresting way. Well, most of them did. Actually, only some did.

When confronted with 75 pieces of thinking and work, I quickly fall back on our Decipher tool, a form of applied semiotic analysis. I ask myself: Is this residual (solid, been done many times before, tried and true, of the past), dominant (executed in the fashion of the day, using the modes of thinking and execution that are most popular now) or emergent (shows signs of new ways of thinking, has new forms of execution, breaks new ground)?

Many of the cases we reviewed felt timeless, stuck in the tried and true. They were certainly solid and delivered pleasing results, but we could have been judging them for the 2000 SABREs.

Those that got our judges’ votes broke new ground for the category, were alive in the moment and culture now, were executed in the emergent. They solved real and difficult problems. They were very creative. And they delivered stunning, tangible results.

I was pleased that as a judging group, we all naturally gravitated toward these types of cases. And although there were some disagreements about which should ultimately win, largely we got to the right set of criteria and winners. Those winners will be crowned this Tuesday night in New York City. And deservedly so.

What the experience taught me is that tomorrow’s PR is alive and well. That it is just as strategic as any other discipline, and that it is given the opportunity by businesses to solve very important and interesting problems for them. That some agencies are clearly moving with the speed of culture and some are burdened by the tried-and-true structures, methods and frameworks they force their teams to think and work through.

Embracing change is vital, as the PR industry is not immune to the social upheaval of traditional communications. It is a change best captured by Jon Iwata, the CMO of IBM, in the title of his exceptional address for last year’s Institute for Public Relations Distinguished Lecture: “Toward a New Profession.”

Thanks to Paul Holmes and my fellow judges. Next year, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, dedicated to pioneering the new profession, will be back again, to scoop the pool.