Hill + Knowlton Strategies chief executive officer, Mandy Galmes, isn’t easily impressed by PR campaigns. That’s a valuable asset for D&AD in its PR jury room. D&AD isn’t easily impressed either. For a D&AD Pencil, it’s excellence or nothing.
The Stable: What will make a campaign Pencil-worthy for you in PR?
Mandy Galmes: Excellence in PR exists firstly in a campaign with proven impact on a brand’s reputation or the behaviour of stakeholders. It’s not gilding that accessorises a brand. It’s work that has generated earned media and genuinely create change for the brand. It’s work that has successfully aligned its campaign strategy with its business objectives to achieve success.
Secondly, it has to be creative. D&AD Awards are built around a creative ideal. But that creativity needs to have the brand purpose or cause at its heart. It’s my job to ask what the brand stands for and assess how the creative links back to that. Like a Girl, for example, had a strong link back to what Unilever stands for, to the purpose in Unilever’s DNA.
I’m not looking for creativity made for awards, but rather creativity that has brought to life a clear and consistent brand story across all channels for all audiences – not necessarily matching luggage, but coming to the right audience via the right channel in the right way and at the right time.
I’m also looking for work that’s more than a blip in the brand’s journey. Work with genuine long-term results. I want to know what business challenge it was trying to address, and I want see that its effects were really beneficial over the long term, not just in the awards judging window.
Lastly, it has to be new. I get excited by work that presents a new way into a problem or challenge, or has overcome a problem in a distinctly different way. And I like an approach that has a sense of fun and vigour. Nothing is more thrilling than work that looks at an age-old problem with a new creative eye.
TS: PR has changed dramatically in the last five years. What makes you say this is great PR?
MG: We work in an integrated environment. In any campaign, the brand will be communicating across a range of channels. At the same time, the role that PR had and the job it was created to achieve have to be clearly discernible. The biggest challenge when entering work in the earned media category is to clearly articulate the central role PR played in achieving the objectives of the campaign.
Ironically, PR is the category that is continuously finding new and relevant ways to address communications challenges. Ways that link back to the brand purpose and are bonded to what the brand stands for. Plus, PR has always had to swim outside our swim lane. We’re really good at bringing in new skills, new ideas and entrepreneurial approaches. We are constantly evolving ourselves and our services; H+K today, and PR agencies in general, are very different to the way we were five, ten, 15 years ago.
The main difference with PR is that the work we develop has to be able to earn media attention, not buy media attention. It’s a different type of creativity that is needed to the traditional 60 second advertising approach. Creativity and creative thinking in PR need to earn headlines and to do this they need to tell a new, powerful and timely story.
TS: What makes H+K stand out?
MG: We’re natural collaborators. In the last five years, our range of PR specialists has blossomed. We work across the entire breadth of marcomms now, using either our own specialists or finding specialists in our network with the right expertise to solve every problem with precision. We sit with our clients right from the get-go – the business strategy – assessing the best way to get work done and have in-built SEO, data and content publishing. As new needs solidify, they are brought in-house, so we talk digital, social content, influencer strategy and creative. And we aim to always do work that has a proven long-term impact on a brand’s reputation or stakeholder behaviour.
TS: What H&K work stands out for you?
MG: We are seeing a growing demand at both a local and global level for smart ideas that create long term value and are founded on data and insight. This is at the heart of our approach. In our offices, you’ll find content and publishing strategists working alongside publicists, and data analysts working with designers.
Our specialists partner with clients across the full breadth of industry sectors from automotive to healthcare, from sport and entertainment to travel, from insurance and finance to corporate affairs.