It’s all about talent and purpose. Takeaways from the ICCO Global Summit 2018

Originally written by Lindsay Paterson, Leadership coach, mentor, consultant, CoachingConsultants

To read the original article posted on Linday’s LinkedIn, click here.

Loved this great global event this year. Here are my main takeaways in no particular order:-

  1. Ad agencies are winning Cannes PR Lions for what are effectively public affairs campaigns. We talk about convergence and overlap between the comms disciplines a lot, but this, to me, is a biggie. The ad agencies win budgets which are many times that which a public affairs agency could expect. Why? Because they are aligning with the marketing function where the money is and focusing advice and spend on issues which are of strategic importance to the business and which matter to their clients and customers. This example of the Trash Isles campaign blew me away – getting the UN to recognise the Pacific trash patch as a country triggers all sorts of legal responsibilities and is public affairs campaigning at its best – even if it did come from an ad agency. The example shared by Aedhmar Hynes of Text100 of this film made by a Danish Financial Services Union about gender equality viewed through the eyes of children is equally powerful (and makes me cry every time…). Unions, businesses and associations making the case to change policy, through advertising techniques – that’s the future, particularly when trust in the political process is particularly low. Does the public affairs industry step up to deliver the same impact? Not always in my view….
  2. Nike was the star of the show at this Summit with speaker after speaker apologising for showing the Kaepernik ad again. Stand for something and get a boost on the stockmarket. That was the message loud and clear from agency leaders last week.
  3. Lil Micheala – I didn’t know about this AI Instagram star. Apparently now that she has a million followers, this bot has moved on to social issues and is raising awareness about kids held in detention camps for example. She’s tapping into what her followers care about and businesses should be doing the same, not only for consumers, but because increasingly, our employees expect us to stand up for what we believe in too.
  4. Talent and diversity were high on the agenda for many – with consensus being that clients benefit most when the message taps into the audience we are trying to reach. If we are one-dimensional in our hires, we’ll never be able to get the message right in this world where people are kicking back against the establishment.
  5. SOS: Stop sending out stuff, said Alex Aitken of the Government Communication Service. Music to my ears. I spend a lot of time talking to people about the simple act of asking why before you send anything or even begin work on it. Doing it the same way is doing it the stale way.
  6. Make yourself uncomfortable. Chimes with the above. Applies to hires, messaging, diversity, consultation. If we can adopt a growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset, our businesses are more likely to be able to accept, and adapt to the challenges facing them.
  7. One P and L. Another one which was music to my ears. Barbara Bates, Global CEO of Hotwire swears by it. Stops the squabbling and does away with a mindset of protecting and enhancing offices or teams. Builds collaboration.
  8. Purpose. Purpose was everywhere. Quote of the day for me: If employees are so important to purpose, why aren’t we asking them what it is?

Thank you to the whole ICCO and PRCA teams and particularly to Elise Mitchell, the President, for a fabulous conference. See you all next year.


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