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Having just come out the other side of the awards season for 2017 – and having just about survived it – now seems as good a time as any to reflect on what the PR Industry this year has judged as a success.  And what we might expect, or even hope, to see in creative terms in 2018.

It never fails to strike me that in PR we always seem to do our best work, as judged by our Industry, for either the not-for-profit or charitable sector. 2017 was no exception. Weber Shandwick’s innovative and very powerful “Brutal Cut” campaign for Action Aid rightly cleaned up this year as it raised awareness of female genital mutilation.

Last year, it was the turn of Engine and MHP with the very clever “Missing Type” campaign for NHS Blood and Transplant that deservedly got the plaudits.

We even got in on the act at Hope&Glory PR appearing on numerous awards shortlists for our very own “Garden of Light” campaign for terminal illness charity, Marie-Curie.

All brilliant causes.  All deserving to be heard.

Yet why is it that campaigns with a cause are the ones that clean up at awards?

Is it that we find it easier to unleash our creativity when we believe we are “doing good”?

Does having a meaningful call to action mean we feel more empowered to cut through the crap? And, as a result, are we then more liberated; creatively braver and more single minded in our approach? 

The industry certainly seems to produce some of its most potent work when there’s a cause at stake which gives pause to reflect. Why can’t we apply the same to commercial brands?  Or are we just as creative, but somehow the industry can’t quite bring itself to reward it for fear that it’s somehow a frippery to think creatively on behalf of a washing powder or a craft beer?

I’d like 2018 to be the year that as PR practitioners we stop apologising for unleashing our creativity on commercial brands and helping them make a difference.

A brilliant idea is no less brilliant simply because it shifts product or sees a spike in sales.  Some would argue that it’s more difficult to think creatively within the confines of a commercial brief – all those extra objectives, challenges and metrics to consider.

I’d like 2018 to be the year that the Industry pits its creative minds on solving real, commercial challenges and not to be apologetic for doing so. That’s not saying charitable causes don’t still need our creative flair, of course they do. But maybe this is the year that we spread the creative love that little bit wider.

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Keep up to date with the latest creative interviews, articles and videos, as well as info on the latest D&AD Awards news.

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