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What’s The Big Idea by Ginny Paton?

“When it comes to PR agencies, there’s nothing that gets our blood flowing as much as the thought of creating The Big Idea” says Ginny Paton (ginnypaton.co.uk).

There have been many such ideas that have grabbed the public consciousness. Just look to the campaign by Dove featuring real women, named the Campaign for Real Beauty. And then there was the campaign by Coca Cola which featured personalised cans and bottles.

It’s not just about eye-catching display ads, it’s got to have that extra element: ‘talkability’, something which really fires the imagination of the media and the public too. Consumer brands like the ones my agency works with strive for that talkability, and it’s that which we compete with the ad and marketing firms on their roster to supply.

So should brands continue to focus on The Big Idea, now that today’s media is fragmented into so many different platforms? Yes, because that’s what it needs – a single strong theme to tie all these strands together and unify the message.

But there’s one element to The Big Idea which I’d say is essential. It has to grab the media’s attention, and produce stacks of media coverage. Sure, the PR industry has changed a lot and we all recognise that there’s a lot more to life than getting the front page of The FT. Certainly, at House PR, we pride ourselves on being digital natives.

But press coverage is still very important as part of the mix. Firstly, it’s important to clients who pay the bills. And secondly traditional media continues to be of huge value to the public, because online or in print, it’s still the most trusted source of information.

And yet the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity hasn’t quite got this yet. The festival provides a fantastic recognition of the creative force in marketing. But for some reason, the subject of press coverage is rarely discussed.

It is odd how the PR category puts so little value in press coverage – perhaps if it did, PR agencies would stand a better chance of winning against the ad companies.

The buzzwork of the festival this year was “storytelling”. And that made me think – we’ve been telling stories since the day we began as an industry. It’s what we strive for at my agency every day – compelling, fascinating stories that will get people talking.

One thing that the advertising world could learn from us: we don’t need a massive budget to grab the attention of the world. We just need a great idea to cut through.

And that’s the real genius of storytelling.

Ginny Paton 10/07/2015

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