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How To: Win a Cannes PR Lions

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The Cannes Lions teamed up with The Council of PR Firms and USA Today today to host a breakfast in New York aimed at raising awareness for the festival’s PR Lions awards among U.S. PR agencies.

The largest advertising and marketing festival in the world, Cannes branched out into PR last year.

Hill & Knowlton is leading efforts to publicize the awards, and H&K CEO Paul Taaffe will serve as Jury President of the judges evaluating the PR Lions. Don’t worry agencies, Taaffe — and all judges for that matter — can’t vote on work from their agencies, or even be in the room while their work is being evaluated.

While 430 applications were received for the PR Lions in 2009, only 10% were from PR firms and of those 10%, only half were from the U.S. — about 20 applications total. Philip Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the festival, said that PR firms shouldn’t let advertising firms “steal your thunder” while encouraging more PR firms to submit.

After the event we caught up with Thomas to get his top five tips for PR agencies in terms of how to win a Cannes PR Lions.


Here are Thomas’ five tips:

1) Categories matter.

“Look carefully at the categories within the PR section,” said Thomas. “Be careful and clever as to which categories you apply to.”

2) Video is key.

“Do make a video if you can,” he said. “It does help bring your submission to life. It is not required but recommended.”

3) Address three points.

“The Lions are judged on strategy, creativity and results,” and “it is important that each of those are addressed” in your submission.

4) Keep it brief.

“The story you tell in your submission needs to be succinct.”

5) Keep cultural implications in mind.

“If there are specific cultural or geographical details, explain them,” he said. “This is an international jury. Explain why ‘the reason this worked well in a particular country was for this reason.’”

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