The consensus was that this was indeed the way forward for a more profitable future. But equally apparent were the obstacles for those comms consultancies bravely battling ad agencies, and other specialists.
Most agreed the pre-requisite for such creative solutions was better resources in insight and planning, something that big advertising agencies have enjoyed for many decades. To be fair some PR shops have successfully developed such a resource over the past decade - Freuds, Edelman, Blue Rubicon among them - but many have also failed to retain good planners.
One of the big advantages of professional planning is that, if followed through the campaign correctly and consistently, it should lead to better measurement and evaluation - and ultimately proof that the creative solution was a good (and cost effective) one.
Such solutions increasingly need a dedicated creative resource. For too long PR professionals have been 'jacks of all trades', trying to combine client insight (planning), account handling (the 'suits') and creative thinking in the same personnel. But if consultancies could find the scale and investment to have departments dedicated to innovation we could expect a sea-change in creative output.
The nirvana would be a substantial creative department that developed pure 'owned media' ideas, which could be sold to clients proactively, rather than waiting to react to briefs.
Another crucial factor is the seniority of the creative relationship between consultancy and client. One still hears frustration that the comms consultant 'cannot get beyond the in-house PRO to the marketing director'. But some practitioners are already taking this a stage further - beyond the marketing director, to the CEO.
PR has an advantage here, thanks to its corporate comms pedigree. Consultants are regularly advising senior managers on their firm's very licence to operate. So if they can combine this top level access with game-changing creative solutions, it should mean lead status within the marketing mix - and exponentially higher rewards.
And on a final optimistic note, comms professionals are used to producing creative solutions amid the fast-moving scepticism of editorial media. This fosters hard-nosed, fast-turnaround, rigorous thinking. If anything, the challenge for comms specialists is to step back a little, and find a bit more space for such ideas.