The Cannes Lions PR Jury Begins the ‘Good PR’ Debate

judging roomI’ve spent much of the past week sequestered with 20 or so others on the Cannes Lions PR jury to determine which of more than 1,200 submissions are worthy of hardware on awards night, and it’s been a lively discussion.

As with any jury, opinions vary, and every perspective counts for a vote, so it’s hard to predict who will prevail and who will not in the end. Still, I’m hopeful we’ll recognize work that we all can be proud of. To that end, before we met, I exercised a prerogative as jury president to send the following views in advance to the jury:

  • “It’s obvious that the lines between PR and other communications disciplines are blurring, and we’ll all arrive with our own opinions about what makes ‘good PR’ and what we should be looking for as indicators. In that regard it might be helpful to share some of my own views, just so you know my biases:
  • I’m interested in recognizing work based on real, discernible audience insight.
  •  I don’t think we should penalize work that uses or even leans on paid or owned content, but I hope we can focus on earned or shared content as the primary driver.
  • I hope the results of entries are measurable and bear some reasonable connection to their stated goals. I think “awareness” is an acceptable outcome although less impressive than actual changes in attitude or behavior, and I’m not personally interested in AVE (advertising value equivalency) as a meaningful metric.
  • As for creativity – the lodestone of the competition – well we will look forward to a healthy debate!”

Having previously reviewed several hundred submissions as part of the pre-evaluation process, I’ve been confident there’s great work to meet and exceed these expectations, and I’ve been glad to see that most of my fellow jurors concur.


As for the question I’m asked most often – will the winning work come from PR agencies? – there’s no way to say at this point. While it’s on the minds of many, I for one think it’s a secondary question. I’d love to see PR agencies win on Monday night, but I’m most interested in seeing great PR take home the Lions, regardless of what kind of agency has done the work.