The communications world awaits Cannes

Next Wednesday, judging begins in the PR section of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

Next Wednesday, judging begins in the PR section of what is now called the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. (The "advertising" slug was appropriately dropped after last year to reflect the broader set of disciplines represented.)

We already have some revelations to share for our industry. First, the PR aspect of the competition, now in its third year, is reaching maturity. We've gone from awarding only "gold," to "gold and silver," and now to "gold, silver and bronze," in addition to the Grand Prix award.

One reason for this expansion is the massive increase in entries this year. Here's the progression in the number of entries: 2009 — 431; 2010 — 571; 2011 — 819. That's quite a growth spurt, with this year's entries rising by 43 percent over last year. I think that's a reflection of our discipline's growing attractiveness as a true value-driver in communications.

Another interesting insight: Organizations identifying themselves as focused on PR represent only 28.13 percent of all entrants into the category. (PR firms' actual entries rose from 174 to 224, but non-PR agencies tended to rise just as dramatically.)

As a side note, the identity of the communications entity is masked from the judges during the evaluation process to remove any potential bias. The breakdown here was provided by Cannes without further details.

The judging process will be arduous. We have 16 judges and only a few days (and nights!) to complete scoring. That's more than 50 entries per judge! For each entry, we will look at a one-page written treatment, a "poster board" visual summarizing the program, and a three-minute video, in addition to other collateral material provided at the discretion of the entrant.

Personally speaking, I'm eager to meet the judges. The 16 judges represent 14 countries and speak nine different languages. All are tops in their industry. It will be a privilege to preside over such a body.

Next blog: What do we mean by "excellence in public relations?"

Dave Senay is President and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard.

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