Olga KazakaDr.sc.comm., A.W.Olsen & Partners/Scholz & Friends Riga Partner, lecturer at the University of Latvia

This year I had the privilege of working in the jury of the international festival of creativity Golden Hammer, assessing work in PR category. I want to share my impressions of the trends that I was able to notice in the campaigns submitted for the jury, and in discussions with colleagues.

I will not go into details of trends that are clear and have been repeatedly discussed, which are related to the temptation to call the number of publications and mentions in social networks a result, as well as the obligatory inclusion of social media in any campaign. I will speak on those which have caused my particular interest.

Important trend I saw in integrated campaigns is the rule of PR strategy and the subordinate role of advertising tools that help to convey the idea tactically. Most often we are accustomed to seeing the reverse model of integrated campaigns: advertising dominates, and the PR only supports it. This turn proved to be an interesting and unexpected not only for me but also for colleagues from other countries. In particular, a trend we have seen in the campaign of the film “The Guide”.

Another trend, which was also noticed by many colleagues from different countries is the loss of seasoned power of traditional media. People use them less and trust them less. However, it is not so clear. On the one hand, we do see that more and more campaigns are moving away from the use of traditional media in its purest form. On the other hand, in the category of PR a social campaign made by TV – RGB received most gold medals and the Grand Prix Golden Hammer 2015. It made possible not only to update an important social problem, but also to change people’s behavior and rhetoric, and the government’s decision. Other, also award-winning campaign, was made by TV too. This is an important signal that the traditional media is still too early to write off the issue of its influence on the audience.

Another interesting aspect was the non-trivial approach to attract the attention of the audience, including some kind of provocation, challenge to the campaign (remember #icebucketchallenge, which was built on the same principle). Among the contenders one immediately attracted my attention – the campaign “Like from Leo”, which ambitiously stated that it itemed to draw the attention of the United Nations representative on climate change Leonardo DiCaprio to the environmental problems of the town Ostashkov. It then collected 15 thousand US dollars on Indiegogo and placed a poster in front of DiCaprio’s house. The campaign contains many cheeky elements of the game and people enjoyed watching, sharing and supporting it. The campaign not only made a lot of noise, but also brought practical results: the town’s municipality have introduced environmental lessons at schools, placed waste sorting containers. So, even very serious, hackneyed and boring topics can be converted using a creative approach.

During the festival, I thought a lot about anxiety I notice among colleagues in PR sphere about the fact that advertisers are beginning to take the bread out of the PR specialists’ mouth by offering PR services. In my opinion, customers today come to the agency not for specific instruments but for the problem or task solution. That agency must diagnose the problem and prescribe the right recipe. Perhaps it will contain some advertising, PR and event-marketing. And it does not matter which agency writes this recipe: advertising or PR. It is the right time for all of us to become communications agencies. It is important to look at the field of communications widely. In the end, the most important thing is to write prescriptions that help customers.

Originally published on the A.W.Olsen & Partners / Scholz & Friends Riga website.