At long last PR seems to have earned a seat at the grown-ups’ table. We’re seen as a strategic management asset, a high-return marketing investment and a logical home for social engagement. We’ve waited for this for a long time. Now what?

We’re at the south of France. Seriously. We (Ketchum) are jumping into the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in a big way, and at the risk of crowding the party, you should, too.

Yes, this is the event known for its first 57 years as the Cannes Lions Advertising Festival. Yes, the French Riviera is better known for fun and sun than the serious business of reputation management. And yes, there are already more PR awards competitions, conferences and events than you can shake a stick at.
But if you’re serious about creativity, inspiration and the future of our business, you’ve got to go where the wild things are. You’ve got to go to Cannes.

For years I’ve argued to anyone who’d listen that the PR business lacked a global “must see and be seen” event that could showcase great work, inspire innovation and offer a meeting place for deals, hires and start-ups. We had no Davos, Fashion Week, or CES.

Enter the Cannes Lions organisers in 2009, who expanded the ad competition to include a PR category, and who this year changed the name to celebrate creative excellence in all forms of communications. Raise the curtain and switch on the spotlight. Our moment has arrived.

For those who worry that it’s an advertising-dominated event that doesn’t quite take PR seriously, I’ve got news. Our entire world is advertising-dominated, and we’ll never be taken as seriously as we like until we can go toe to toe with the big players of advertising, digital and social media.

I don’t expect it to transform us overnight, nor do I think it will replace important existing events. In fact we’re taking it a year at a time, choosing great work to enter, sitting on the jury and now sponsoring their Young Marketers Competition.

However, I do expect the Festival, with more and more agencies participating, to have a significant impact on the way PR is seen by those with the largest marketing budgets.

It’s up to us to make the most of the opportunity we’ve worked so hard to earn.