Insights from the Jury: What Winning PR looks like

Posted by Elise Mitchell on June 28, 2017


Cannes 2017 (Part 2 of a 4-part series from Elise highlighting takeaways from this year’s festival.)

Three years ago I had the privilege of serving on the Cannes PR Lions jury.  Being a juror is an enlightening experience that exposes you to some of the industry’s finest work and gives you a whole new way of thinking about the art and the science of communications.

Based on the insights shared by this year’s jury, they had an equally powerful experience. Some of my best takeaways from Cannes 2017 came from the PR Lions jury debrief.

The morning after the award ceremony, five of the jurors gathered in ICCO/PR Council House of PR to hold court and share their insights to a standing-room-only crowd. Their perspectives on how they made their decisions -- what won and why – shed some light on the PR industry’s best work to date. 


Here are a few highlights:

  • Key criteria for winning campaigns -- Earned at the core, insights-driven, powerful creativity, measurable results.
  • Doing well by doing good is not limited to CSR. Consumers expect brands to have good as a central part of their business proposition. Brands should also be intentional about their larger role in society.
  • The connection between technology and purpose was critical to demonstrate.
  • There were not that many virtual reality entries, but several featured artificial intelligence. However, technology had to serve the larger creative message to win.
  • Timeless qualities of winning campaigns: brave, earned, creative, unique, relevant, integrated, insights-driven, measurable.
  • Simple advice to win at Cannes: Be sure to enter in the correct category. Jurors are not allowed to move entries to a more appropriate category.
  • Integration is essential. Don’t enter PR-only work. Think broadly and show how campaigns worked across channels to ensure optimal results.
  • Consider cultural relevance in your campaigns. Show how your work resonates with your community.
  • From moment to movement -- “Fearless Girl” was an example of work that transcended the short attention span of consumers and raised a timeless issue.
  • The jury did not reward campaigns that were not PR-led and earned at the core. Amplification of advertising and creative work was not enough.
  • Innovation as media -- Innovation was awarded as a vehicle for powerful storytelling.
  • A few notable trends among entries: use of jerseys to spread a message, art-to-action campaigns, hashtags used to create awareness for a cause, more B2B campaigns.


There are countless opportunities to sit in on panels and presentations at Cannes that cover everything from digital to innovation. Some of my takeaways:

  • Stay focused on your vision so you are not distracted by the “bells and whistles” of endless campaign extras. The more you drive toward your primary objective, the better your chances of business success. @dentsu main-stage presentation on creativity that drives business innovation
  • Can brands manufacture #authenticity? To do so, they must feature real people, real stories and a resonant message. @Campaignmag panel
  • Your brand is only as good as your last 5 star rating via @meganstooke, on building brands in a digital economy @DriveMaven @dentsuaegis
  • Voice queries are longer than written ones. Also 3x more likely to be local. Underscores the power of local, hyperlocal and AI. @iProspect #tomorrowthink
  • Bots are the modern-day app. Brands who get personalized #AI right will win. #tomorrowthink @iProspect panel
Elise at Cannes_2017.jpg{IMAGES IN POST: Cannes PR Lions award winners, more HERE.}

Cannes 2017 (Part 2 of a 4-part series from Elise highlighting takeaways from this year’s festival.)

(Next up: Market insights from global PR industry leaders – video interviews from Cannes.)

Topics: Public Relations