Roaring with Pride: Our Cannes Young Lions Journey

24 hours. 26 countries. One brief. Five minutes to present. Three winners. Well… this year it was only two. But, as they say in France, “C’est la vie.”

For those safely beyond the bubble of the palais in Cannes, the festival’s Young Lions PR Competition is a test of wit and skill where young PR pros compete against other teams from around the globe—showcasing their talent in response to a predetermined client brief in front of a jury comprised of the industry’s brightest minds. No pressure.

We’re not going to sugar coat it. The Cannes Young PR Lions Competition is an intense and emotional roller-coaster. But, one we’ll never forget.

If that description didn’t scare you off, and you’re still interested in putting yourself to the ultimate test, here are three tips from some (almost) bronze-winning lions.

Go for it.
A double entendre. First, forget what we said, you should definitely enter. The U.S. Young Lions competition is a great way to stretch yourself and apply your skills in a way you might not be able to do in your everyday roles. Who knows, you might just win. Finding out we won that leg of the competition and would be invited to compete was a tremendous thrill in and of itself. Second, if and when you get flown to France to compete in the global competition, do not be afraid to go BIG; regardless of what the brief says. This is Cannes, and bold is best. If your idea scares you, then you’re probably on the right track.

Pick the right teammate.
Because this competition pushes you to your limits, choose someone you can stand to be around for 48 of the most stressful hours of your life. We’re real friends and have developed a rhythm and chemistry that was not only  an asset as things got dicey, but was something called out by the judges in both rounds of the competition as an asset during our presentations.

Be honest.
Because there’s so much to do in so little time, you have to be brutally honest—about where your strengths and weaknesses lie, about the ideas you bring to the table, and even about when you need a minute to yourself. If you know us, we’re very different people, but our skills complement one another. And during the competition we not only played up those strengths, but we implicitly trusted each other to fill in the gaps where we knew we might have been lacking.

While we don’t wish to relive it quite yet, we are so thankful for the experience, the love, the support, and the toast in our honor from leaders at Ketchum that was waiting for us when we finished presenting. If you’ve ever even once thought about entering the Cannes Young Lions competition, see tip number one and don’t be afraid to reach out.

Kelly Kenny is a Strategic and Creative Planning Specialist in Ketchum’s New York office. She manages our Global Creative Community, specializes in big ideas, and hopes to resurrect Ketchum’s Karaoke Club one day. Kelly graduated from Ball State University with a Master’s in Public Relations.