Jim Joseph
President of the Americas and Chief Integrated Marketing Officer
Cohn & Wolfe

Last week I judged the Cannes Young Lions competition for the U.S. public relations industry. To say it was an honor and totally exciting would be a huge understatement. It was both of those and then some.

Our goal at the PR Council is to send a representative U.S. public relations team to the Festival at Cannes this summer, so it’s a big responsibility. I entered the room feeling that burden, but with high hopes in anticipation of the presentations.

I was so happy to participate. I’m personally a big supporter of young talent, as is the PR Council.

Giving props to the next generation of marketers is our way of giving back to our industry. I’ve had so many mentors when I was young, and I try to return the favor wherever possible. It’s my motivation for writing on my blog everyday. It’s why I teach at NYU. It’s the inspiration behind many of the programs at the PR Council.

We all want to help propel people to greater heights.

Selfishly, I’m getting a lot in the process. Which is why I enjoyed the Cannes Young Lions judging experience so much. I learned a lot.

I learned what encouragement looks like. The presenters were so eager to demonstrate their thinking and to share their creative ideas. They were passionate about their plans and earnest in their approaches. Truthfully, I didn’t really want to choose just one team. Why can’t they all win?!? All I wanted to do was to encourage them to keep honing their craft. Their talent was so apparent, and I just wanted to jump in and help them get even better. I could visibly see the impact of even just a little bit of encouragement on their faces. It was so inspiring.

I learned about preparation. We were blown away by the preparedness of the teams. Each and every one of them knew their material and presented without notes or backups. Not a single hiccup. They were poised, articulate, and as a result came across as experts in their field. Their professionalism set a new bar for our industry and for us all.

I learned that the next generation is going to be even better. Each group started out with compelling research. They used insights to drive their creative ideation. The programs were comprehensive and well integrated. And their measurement approach showed how results would be calculated and proven. What has taken us years to learn and assimilate into our processes, this group now takes for granted as standard operating procedure. Well done.

The net takeaway? The future looks bright; no doubt about it. We are definitively sending a competitive team to Cannes this year to represent the U.S., and we should be proud of that. But even more importantly, we are advancing our craft year after year, and this group of future leaders will make it even better for the generation that comes next.

Isn’t that what it’s all about? How does it get any better than that?