Have you ever heard about the D&AD Pencil? A yellow or a black one? Sure. It´s one of the most prestigious awards for creatives and designers in the advertising world. If you havn´t heard about D&AD so far, you are probably a PR person. The Design & Art Direction Award was founded in London 1962 and one year later a jury of 25 members looked over 2,500 pieces of advertisting to honor well designed ideas and excellent execution.
54 years later, in 2016, Public Relations was added to the 27 award categories - next to Film, Book Design, Branding, Packaging Design, Print, Direct, Digital Marketing and many more.
OMG! No, not another award for PR
The Cannes Lions included PR as a new category around eight years ago, CLIO added Public Relations to it´s roaster and it looks like that every advertising award show wants to have PR now on its list. Now it´s D&AD. But does PR really need another award? Already today PR-people struggle to find enough campaigns and work to showcase their brilliance. To be honest most of the work PR people do has not the slightest chance to win a lion or a pencil or whatever. Most of what PR people do is to consult companies and brands managing their relationship with the public. With stakeholder, journalists, opinion leaders, peer groups. And most of this work is done with tons of arguments, facts & figures, phone calls, meetings, lunches, mailing lists and a lot of powerpoint.
Oh yes please, one more award for PR
But since Public Relation people showed up on stage at fancy award ceremonies near by the Croisette or at some Museums in New York they are on fire. On fire for awards, for ideas and for relevance. A fire which this industry and communication discipline needs urgently. In all this years when PR huddled up against business consulting, where agencies strived to become management consultant, we run the risk to loose an important component of our profession and work. We tend to forget what it needs to be in communication: It´s the skill to listen actively and to talk apropriate. It´s the skill to know the right people and networks to connect with. It´s the skill to differentiate the relevant from the ordinary. It´s the skill to spark a real conversation. But overall it´s the skill to be creative.
Creativity is not a privilege of advertising or design. It´s a key component of Public Relations as well. Today more than ever.
And therefore an award-festival like D&AD is so welcome and comes right now perfect. Perfect timing. While the Cannes Lions and Clio look into the origin of an idea and awards like Effie focus on evaluation and results there is definitely the need for an award which looks deep and clear into the execution and the design of an idea.
If you ask a PR-person about design and the beauty of an idea they might point to Art Directors at advertising agencies or Designers at product developing agencies. But not at themselve. So wrong.
We have to change the way we look into an idea and how we execute our campaigns - especially in PR. In a world where the hunger for great stories is growing day by there, in a world where images win over text, and where the beauty of an app user-interface decides on the success of a message ... PR-people have to become much more sensitive to aesthetic aspects and the design of their work.
So Hello and Welcome to D&AD Awards! You come at a perfect time. You force us to raise our attantion upon the aesthetic of an idea and the craft of a PR campaign. We´ve never looked at our work like this - but we will do in the future more and more. How beautiful is this.
PS: I have the pleasure and honor to serve as a jury member at the Cannes PR Lions 2014 and 2016 at the Cannes Lions Innovation as well as at the Clio Awards. I´ve been a jury member at the very first PR jury at D&AD - so my opinion on this topic might not be as objective as it should be. Well, but I hope the PR industry will welcome this new creative route with open arms.