You've got to fight for your right to partake

Writing up the round table discussion that took place post-awards in Cannes was as inspiring as it was frustrating. It brought back into sharp focus the good, the bad and the ugly.

Ruth Wyatt: 'The festival opening gala takes place on Tuesday night, but the PR Lions are on Monday night, so clearly not central to the event.'
Ruth Wyatt: 'The festival opening gala takes place on Tuesday night, but the PR Lions are on Monday night, so clearly not central to the event.'

Cannes is an institution in adland. Pretty much anyone who's anyone in advertising descends on the ludicrously priced enclave to see and be seen. To celebrate their award wins as ostentatiously as possible; to schmooze clients; showcase creativity and thought leadership, attract new talent and seduce new business prospects in the scorching sun.

Not so for the PR industry, a late addition given that the Festival of Creativity has been running for 60 years and PR was invited to join the party just five years ago.

The festival opening gala takes place on Tuesday night, but the PR Lions are presented on Monday night, so clearly not seen as central to the event. This is indicative of the lack of visibility of PR as a creative profession at this global celebration of creativity.

As Edelman global chair of creative strategies Jackie Cooper forcefully pointed out, the PR winners were displayed at the arse-end of the hall at the Grand Palais, behind pillars and abandoned empty display cases.

Then there's the issue of PR not appearing on the main stage - with the notable exception of Good Relations' Jackie Brock-Doyle in her capacity as the former Olympics communications supremo.

Enough of the bad and the ugly.

The good was very good.

Listening to the round table recording, it was inspiring to relive the passion and pride of some of the biggest and best operators in PR, and to hear them agreeing to band together for the greater good of the industry.

Yes, they are all highly competitive people and often in direct combat for new business. But they are also highly collaborative, thoughtful, reflective and intuitive. And they have committed to putting their collective might and considerable experience behind an initiative designed to be of benefit to all PR players, large and small.

It's frustrating not to be able to share all the comments from the event. Stuart Smith's point about the value PR as a business places on ideas is a must. Ogilvy PR's EAME CEO reflected: 'When an ad creative has an idea they will die defending it, whereas we are more "oh,you don't like that, ok we've got another one - how about this?". At our worst we use ideas like confetti.'

So, a more robust defence of ideas might be in order then? That's a fight worth having too.

ruth.wyatt@haymarket.com

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