Davis’ recipe for PR success: ‘More sizzle to the steak’

On Wednesday CAANZ Marcomms Leadership Group (MLG) is hosting a special event, Re-Imagining PR. It’s PR, ‘but not as you imagine, or know it’–because with social media constantly evolving, PR business models are also having to. Lynne Anne Davis, managing director Fleishman Hillard Asia Pacific, is one of the speakers at the forum, and she answers a quick Q&A for those of you who can’t wait for Wednesday’s gig.

Based in Hong Kong, Davis oversees Fleishman Hillard’s Asia Pacific operations. During her time in the role, the business has expanded exponentially, and achieved numerous awards; in 2011 it was recognised as ‘Asia Pacific Agency of the Year’.

Davis will share award-winning campaigns developed by Fleishman-Hillard across Asia Pacific and around the world that exemplify fully integrated strategies that make a meaningful business impact.

“Clients’ needs are more complex as they face unprecedented pressure to manage their reputations and bottom lines in a new world of social influence. As the communications function becomes increasingly strategic, especially at major global firms, the need for interdisciplinary consulting is growing,” Davis says.

1) How do you define creatively-led PR?
Creative leadership is paramount in communications today. To reach connected consumers who decide what they choose and how – requires a new kind of marketing attitude– social, influencer, digital and traditional communications melded together. The “big idea” continues to reign, together with influence and dialogue, which is where PR takes the lead.

2) What’s your favourite example of that kind of work, either from your own agency/network or elsewhere? And why do you think it worked?

Mercedes Benz in China, the world’s largest auto market, launched the urban mobility solution ‘smart’ car which took the market by storm and began flying off the shelves even before it rolled off the assembly line. The integrated campaign targeted educated, open-minded, innovative, and image-conscious 20-39 year olds who are actively seeking to purchase a car. The car was positioned to represent freedom for the owner to express his/her own personality. The totally above-the-line campaign incorporated experiential and influencer marketing techniques with cutting-edge technology and online engagement, culminating into a string of events that engaged their target audience and created nationwide buzz. Ultimately, pre-sales outstripped expectations and the ‘smart’ brand was off to a roaring start.

3) Why do you think that, on the whole, advertising agencies rather than PR/Experiential agencies tend to dominate in PR/Exp categories at creative award ceremonies (i.e. Cannes, and domestically, Axis)?
I’ve judged numerous awards programs and can see that the PR industry needs to up its game in packaging entries more slickly. Until it does, we can only hope that the judges see through the sizzle to the steak!

4) Why should people come along to the CAANZ MLG Forum and what can they expect to hear from you?
Traditional forms of marketing and communications have been turned on their head in recent years due to a flurry of new and evolving channels. Brands are struggling to adapt to changes in the way people engage with brands and how messages are consumed. I will be presenting a range of case studies on how brands have used insight-led PR to solve real business problems in the US, Japan, China and Korea, drawing on the likes of Gatorade, Kia, adidas and more.

Other speakers at the 21 March event include:

Kevin Ramsdale, General Manager Brand, National Australia Bank
Tim McColl Jones, Business Director, Clemenger BBDO, Melbourne
Matt Bruhn Marketing Director, Diageo Australia

Idealog editor Hazel Phillips will MC the forum, which will also offer audience members the opportunity to put questions to the speakers in a panel session chaired by Vincent Heeringa, publisher at Tangible Media. And, of course, there will be some post-forum drinks.

Tickets are $250 for CAANZ members and $290 for non-members. More information and registration details are available at www.caanz.co.nz/re-imaginingpr.

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