Blurred's Stuart Lambert: 'PR should solve problems, not just fund endless consumption'

Blurred co-founder Stuart Lambert called on the PR industry to step beyond the abstract ideas and solve real problems if it wants to be considered a thought leader.

Blurred's Stuart Lambert at the PRCA National Conference
Blurred's Stuart Lambert at the PRCA National Conference

Speaking at the PRCA National Conference in London this week, Lambert said he was scared for his children’s future, and described talk of them inheriting the planet or wealth as "not right".

"We’re bequeathing it to them, and that's a world that going to full of challenges and problems that will be scary. How do we lead in an age of crisis?" he added.

Blurred recently committed the agency to only work with clients that meet a new framework based on the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Lambert said he wanted to work in an industry he could be proud of and questioned whether PR was part of the problem.

He asked: "Are we funding an endless consumption cycle, or are we solving problems?"

He said more agencies should be telling businesses that being profitable and sustainable are not mutually exclusive.

"We need ideas that solve shit. We should be using our knowledge to solve briefs not just coming up with abstract ideas," he said.

He discussed the example of how digital agency AKQA launched a free code to prevent illegal Amazon forest clearing. The open source software called Code of Conscience that restricts the use of heavy-duty vehicles in protected land areas.

It uses open-source mapping data from the United Nations World Database on Protected Areas – updated monthly by NGOs, communities and governments – in conjunction with existing GPS tracking technology that’s installed in construction vehicles, to autonomously restrict de-forestation crews from entering protected zones.

"Our purpose has to be about the kind of industry we want to be, about the work we do on behalf of clients, and how we make the world a better place," Lambert said.

Lambert said that the industry could invest in all the new technology, data and measurement tools it wants but if it isn’t talking about ecology, economic and political issues then it was just "furnishing the car, not looking at the road ahead".

"If you want to be leaders you have to know we’re going, a world were sustainable ethical businesses flourish," he said. "Comms strategy is business strategy, we have to ask those questions of our clients beyond the reputational stuff."

Lambert said the key to finding solutions to the problems facing the world was going to be based on the advice of the PR industry.

"If we’re not doing it, who will?" he added.

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