Global Awards show strength of PR profession around world

This week's PRWeek Global Awards winners and a taste of the bullish U.K. PR sector represent a welcome contrast to the relative stasis in the U.S.

Image source: MasterCard Press Room
Image source: MasterCard Press Room

I had a great trip to the U.K. this week with the highlight being the PRWeek Global Awards in London on Tuesday night.

Mastercard won top honors in Global Campaign of the Year for Girls4Tech: Making a Difference One Girl at a Time, a particularly prescient activation given the cultural context of gender equality that has dominated the past 12 months.

Weber Shandwick scored an unprecedented fourth double in a row in taking home the Global Agency of the Year (in addition to its fourth U.S. win in March) and U.K.-based Instinctif scored in the International Agency category.

Text100’s Aedhmar Hynes pipped Weber’s Gail Heimann to Global Agency PR Pro of the Year in a very competitive contest; Save the Children International’s Kirsten Walkom was In-house PR Pro of the Year. Antonio Lucio was Marketer of the Year.

This year, we introduced categories for best regional work, and it was great to host PR professionals from Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, as well as the usual strong contingents from the U.K. and North America.

The regional awards demonstrated that some firms that may be struggling to grow in the U.S. are doing very well in other parts of the world.

Genesis Burson-Marsteller won in the Asia-Pac category for its Back to Work initiative in India for breast pump company Medela. Asda’a Burson-Marsteller won in the Middle East and Africa category for its Arab Youth Survey activation.

Ketchum’s Little George won in LatAm for its Test of Courage campaign on behalf of Pfizer. Ketchum and its subsidiaries also won four other prizes to continue its historically strong showing in PRWeek Awards.

PRWeek’s recent Agency Business Report showed U.K. firms achieved much better growth than their U.S. cousins, with MSLGroup and Weber up in the region of 20% year on year; Burson Cohn & Wolfe, Teneo Blue Rubicon and Freud Communications all up 10%; somewhat surprisingly, the world’s largest PR firm, Edelman, only grew around 1%.

I visited Hill+Knowlton Strategies while I was in London and heard bullish tales from U.K. CEO Richard Millar about the agency’s 5.5% growth in 2017, propelled in part by lucrative assignments with Chinese companies looking to make their mark in the U.K. and Europe, especially in the energy, mobile telephony, and tech sectors.

The great work on display in the global awards and the bullishness of the U.K. PR sector was a welcome contrast from the flat to cautious optimism that typifies the U.S. at the moment.

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