At the ongoing Cannes Lions Awards for Creativity, The PRactice Porter Novelli was the only Indian PR firm to have an entry shortlisted for the prestigious PR Lions Award. In an exclusive interview with Image Management, Nandita Lakshmanan, the Founder and CEO of The PRactice talks about successful award entries, the need for PR events, and how awards can help the industry set and raise standards.
Q. What do you think are the main components to a successful PR award entry?
The components for a PR award entry is no different from what one keeps in mind while developing a campaign. In 2010, as a jury member at the Cannes PR Lions, I found that entries that made a mark were campaigns that lived true to the definition of public relations, ie touched various stakeholders. These campaigns were built around one big, creative idea that could be adapted anywhere in the world, and were rich in content and strategy.
In addition, the packaging of an entry is also important. At Cannes, firms that did three things – packaged their case studies with videos and collateral, demonstrated a change in behaviour, and entered in the right categories – won accolades.
Q. Briefly tell us about the HP Write & Read campaign and why you think it has been so successful?
HP Write&Read is a unique program that helped young children connect with the writers in themselves. The program had Prasoon Joshi, renowned Indian lyricist, as its creative mentor and its six creative writing workshops – aimed at children aged 9 to 14 – were facilitated by Katha, a non-profit organization that focuses on bringing quality reading and education to children living in conditions of poverty.
The campaign spanned on-ground stakeholder relationship, print and online media relations and digital community management as well. Overall all what made the campaign so special was the fun social angle that we were able to conceptualize and execute for a very exciting client.
Q. How important are events like Cannes for the PR community? Does the Indian PR fraternity need such an event?
Such events are few, but gaining momentum. It allows for a platform to showcase exemplary work done by our industry to our key constituents, i.e. corporates and other entities. The Indian PR Industry is slowly waking up to the need to have such events, having smelt success in regional events. We should become more ambitious as emerging markets offer wider scope for innovation and impact.
Even today, there is a limited perception in the market about what Public Relations can achieve. Constant reinforcement of the breadth of our activities by way of such events can help us create awareness and need for services other than just media relations.
Q. Why do you think Indian agencies are under-represented at global PR awards such as Cannes?
The PR Awards at Cannes is all of three years. Those of us who have had the exposure to such events must demystify some of the entry barriers. Indian PR firms have been unsung heroes for long and have been happy with positive internal feedback from clients. This has to change. It is important to increase our presence in such events. I am sure and hope that the news of our achievement proves to be contagious and there is a clamour among Indian PR Firms and its clients to be represented at international event.
Q. Should the Indian PR industry pay more attention to awards? How can they help set industry standards and raise the overall quality of services?
Yes, we need to participate in greater strength. I am sure this will happen, but our industry bodies, clients and leaders of PR firms must come forward to create an environment where good work is recognised and rewarded. Such events are a big boost to confidence and our ability to find meaningful solutions to client objectives.