This was a week of inspiration at PRWeek that encompassed a day of awards judging, a shortlist that reflects incredibly well on the PR profession, and an evening of celebrating our industry’s legends.
The PRWeek Awards are the most prestigious in the industry, the Oscars of PR if you will. They are judged by 80 of the top PR pros in the sector. The jury members and the process make it unprecedented in its rigor.
This is not the PR Lions at Cannes, where stunts are prioritized over top-level strategic and business-changing work.
This is not the school playground where everyone wins a prize. The shortlisted entrants in the 40 categories represent the cream of the crop in terms of work, teams, brands, and individuals operating at the top of their game.
This is not a process designed purely to elicit as many entries as possible or to sell tables at a dinner.
Look at the scope of the 20th PRWeek Awards shortlist and you will see a body of work and range of practitioners worth championing and celebrating at Cipriani Wall Street in downtown Manhattan on March 21 next year.
The journey that culminated in that body of work was forged by the legends and pioneers that make up the PRWeek Hall of Fame, superbly illustrated by the latest group of honorees who were inducted on Monday evening.
Where the PRWeek Awards gala is noted for the cordite of competition and agency rivalries, the Hall of Fame dinner exhibits an atmosphere of respect, pride, contemplation, and pure fun as the industry gathers to celebrate its legendary figures.
This year’s class of honorees represented a scope that was both impressive and diverse: Padilla’s Lynn Casey, McCann Worldgroup’s Harris Diamond, Harley-Davidson’s Joanne Bischmann, Chevron’s Dave Samson, Elon University’s Rochelle Ford, and FleishmanHillard’s John Graham.
I was struck by how humble the honorees were about their achievements and contributions to the industry and business in general. More used to being the calming and steady hand behind the tiller, PR pros don’t always relish being in the limelight themselves. They help construct narratives, rather than being the central character within the story line.
But more than one inductee said in their acceptance remarks that it has never been more important to foster a culture of respect, authenticity, and transparency in our communication, public dialogue, and reputation management.
Harris Diamond, a PR stalwart turned senior ad executive who now oversees 20,000 staff around the world at McCann Worldgroup, seemed to enjoy being back on his old hunting ground.
Diamond noted that his current home was founded in 1911 by Harrison McCann and operated under the strap line ‘Truth Well Told’, an excellent slogan for a PR firm if ever I heard one - so maybe he hasn’t strayed too far from his original path after all.
In fact, ‘Truth Well Told’ is a good line to sum up this week of inspiration, contemplation, and reflection on the work and people that are driving the PR industry forward in exciting but turbulent times.
And it seems a good mantra to take forward into 2019 as a guiding principle – much more productive than the current divisive rhetoric that revolves around fake news, enemies of the people, and pitting peoples and nations against each other.