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Look out for the big ideas

In this age of conversation, capturing audience imagination matters more than ever says Shine communications' Richard Brett.

What would Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the International Olympic Committee, have made of the commercial aspects of London 2012? Might the aristocratic, Paris-born father of the modern Olympics have allowed himself a wry smile at the idea of EDF illuminating landmarks such as Tower Bridge? Would he have perceived delicious irony in a French utility company's use of 'mood lighting' to reflect the host nation's triumphs (lots, please!) and disappointments?

It's fun to ponder. However, there are also valuable lessons to be learned about a much-changed world and how EDF is exploiting this important sponsorship.

The company's strategy aims to link social media sentiment with real world spectacle.

Hashtags and opinions on the day's sporting action will be monitored on Twitter with a slick algorithm to assess the national mood, subsequently expressed via a lightshow on the London Eye.

Generating and executing big ideas that mesh together across social media and physical content is increasingly vital. In this age of conversation, capturing audience imagination matters more than ever.

Of course, specialisation remains necessary. Clients rightly demand expertise from their agencies; PR consultancies should continually strive to improve on PR fundamentals.

We work hard to hone our two-way conversational skills. By placing consumer interaction at the heart of the creative route, we can help brands develop propositions and comms solutions that resonate with target audiences.

The marcoms picture is complex. A big question for clients is how to manage collaboration between various agencies to maximum effect. Social media's rise means PR is considered a lead discipline as never before.

But what is often unclear is how a client should engage all his or her agencies in an effective and smart planning process.

With this in mind, Shine and London Business School MBA students conducted a study into how the growth of social media and PR has affected multi-agency management and planning. The research looked into clients' agency structure, multi-agency management systems and how disruptive the rise of social media has been on agency roles.

Together with research from other sources and relevant case studies, this provides the basis for Shine's new #smartplanning report. We consider it necessary to look at planning afresh given that the certainties of old mass comms models have been swept away.

In an age of marcoms clutter and fragmented audiences, there is general consensus that traditional advertising is under threat. Big ideas can come from anywhere. They evolve and spread like wildfire.

All of this must be understood and accommodated in terms of planning and agency management. Social media have changed the game, and we have responded by building our Shine1 planning function.

After all, where would we be if the world never changed? The Olympians preparing to race at the smart new Aquatics Centre would surely consider the London 2012 facilities superior to those encountered by competitors in the first modern Games. At the 1896 Athens Olympics, swimmers had to compete in the open sea as the organisers refused to spend money on a suitable venue. Back then, planning was seldom smart, only birds tweeted and there were no sponsors eager to make the Acropolis shine.

VIEWS IN BRIEF

If your agency was an Olympic sport, which would it be, and why?

Cycling. It's a sport in which speed and strategy are essential. Innovations in lightweight carbon fibre bike frames and drag-reducing aerodynamic helmets have helped riders go ever faster; while we continually sharpen up our performance by investing in groundbreaking offers such as our Shine1 planning hub and digital capabilities. We strive for restless brilliance; like a bunch sprint, our work is vivid, exciting and eye-catching.

What has been your greatest digital lesson this year?

See our #smartplanning report at shinecom.com for all our answers.

Richard Brett is managing director at Shine Communications

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