Defining excellence in Cannes

The judges will have 819 entries in 25 categories to sift through. We're bound to see some amazing work.

Jetting to Cannes now.

The judges will have 819 entries in 25 categories to sift through. We're bound to see some amazing work.

Setting our definition of "excellence" will be one of the first things we do together. In preparation, I shared these views, based on a preliminary review of about one-quarter of the entries:

  • At the most basic level, I think we will encounter lots of publicity results, and often some kind of advertising equivalent for that publicity. If an entry does not rise above this level, it may not warrant an award. After all, PR is much more than media relations alone. There are exceptions, of course.
  • At the next level up are clear and measurable changes in attitudes and beliefs. These are at the core of what makes PR so powerful. Entries that have strong results in these areas deserve greater consideration in my view.
  • At the final level of our craft, we change behaviors. We prompt people to act in some way. And the more these actions are aligned with organizational or business or social objectives, the better. Many of these behavioral changes translate into measurable value. Entries that achieve such influence are among the most important in proving the value of PR and should therefore be given our greatest consideration.

Of course, there are many other aspects to consider, such as inherent creativity, level of audience engagement, efficient use of resources and budget, ability to integrate across online and offline communications platforms (paid, earned, shared, and owned media), and outstanding contributions to the good of society. All deserve our consideration.

My points prompted two comments from the jury: Let's not forget elevating “insight-driven strategy” as a highly prized element, and let's do everything we can to validate reported results. Both are good suggestions.

What do you think of the evaluation process?

Dave Senay is President and CEO of Fleishman-Hillard.

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