Cannes Lions was, without a doubt, the most enlightening and informative conference I’ve ever been to. While I learned more about advertising in one week in Cannes than I did in an entire semester, there were a few seminars that did not live up to my expectations. The two that really stood out as lacking were Twitter and Hill & Knowlton.
The Twitter seminar was presented by Chief Executive Officer, Dick Costolo. The seminar wasn’t bad. Dick Costolo was a good speaker, and he was very comfortable on stage. However, there wasn’t anything new in his presentation. Twitter is most effective for real-time conversations. You should be honest and genuine in your connection with your audience and offer them a reason to be involved in the conversation. Why should they use your hashtag? What will they get from following you on Twitter?
All of this is pretty standard. If you’re using Twitter, you already know this. I would have liked to learn more about using promoted tweets and stories. The advertising platform for Twitter is in beta. I have used it, but not for long. I only used it for a client 24 hours. This gave me a brief sense of how it works, but I certainly do not fully understand the benefits of the platform or which circumstances are best for promoting tweets versus users and so forth. So while Twitter had a nice presentation in terms of the speaker and the images on the screen, it was lacking in the content.
The Hill & Knowlton forum was one of the sessions I was most looking forward to at Cannes Lions. The topic was “Selling Presidents, Prime Ministers and Products. How It’s Different. Why It Matters.” Each of the panelists discussed their experiences working on political campaigns, and that was it. I didn’t learn much of anything. This might say a lot about what I have learned at Syracuse University through my studies of public relations and international relations. Even still, I expected a more in-depth comparison of promoting politicians versus promoting companies from one of the top PR firms in the U.S.
From my experience, it all goes back to a basic principle: people want connections and relevance. If you truly understand who your audience is, you will know what they want, what they need and how they spend their time. When you know this, you know how your company/public figure fits into their lifestyles. This is where any great campaign starts. Know your company, know your audience and see how it all works together.
While I was let down by Twitter and Hill & Knowlton, there’s always next year. Hopefully they’re paying attention. I don’t want a repeat of everything, I’ve already learned and heard 100 times. I want to learn something from your company that I would not get from any other session at Cannes Lions. Give me a reason to choose your session over the rest.