The Swedish model – How to turn rookies into Cannes winners

Written by: Joseph Borenstein, Cohn & Wolfe Sweden Print@J_Borenstein
Linnéa Rinäs, Cohn & Wolfe Sweden Print@linnearinas

We were invited to the ICCO Global Summit 2015 to talk about our winning campaign from Cannes Young Lions this summer. However, since talking about one single campaign for 30 minutes gets kind of dull, we decided to  broaden the theme and name our seminar “The Swedish model – How to turn rookies into Cannes Winners”.

In many markets, the PR business is very hierarchical and it takes many years for a junior consultant to even meet the client. Not to mention taking own initiatives, like pitching on a new client or managing a big account. For us, that has never been an issue. Our CEO has never been afraid of letting us try, letting us fail, and letting us succeed.

We therefore decided to share with the audience a few Swedish-inspired tips for how they themselves can turn their rookies into Cannes Winners:

  • Throw away the titles! We would never have won our awards if we would have been stuck in the blogger-email, journalist-calling, social media-copy-trap for 2 years. Which is easy if you’re bound by titles and official work descriptions. In Sweden, we dropped a lot of the formal structures at companies in the 70’s, and we sure don’t miss them. What junior consultants may lack in experience, they compensate with in curiosity – let them not only be part of creative processes, but sometimes even lead them!
  • Mix & Match! A wannabe engineer with a political junkie. A sports geek and a fashionista. Unexpected combinations of people can be pretty awesome!
  • Enable us! Our boss sometimes say that the least she can do is to not stand in our way. That might sound harsh, but I’d say it’s crucial to believe and trust in your younger team members. They want do things differently than you? Explore a whole new way of doing PR? Let them try! They might fail from time to time, but so what? That’s how people learn and grow, both as individuals and as businesses. And that’s how you get to keep your talent past the famous 3-year “I quit”.
  • Let us have fun! It’s been proved that millennials want a fun and social workplace, and that doesn’t mean we’re slackers. One of the reasons we work at Cohn & Wolfe is that it is hard to imagine a more fun place to be. Our colleagues are the goofiest, funnest and sweetest people we’ve ever met, and sometimes our open floor plan feels more like a schoolyard than an office. Does that mean we win less new clients, score less coverage, or are less productive? On the contrary. It just means we have fun along the way.

We came to Milan not only to tell the story of how we won Cannes Young Lions, but also to encourage agency leaders  to nurture and take care of the talent they have within their agencies. Because we’re pretty sure that every single agency has the potential of winning a Young PR Lion  – by just following our tips.

Next year, we’re going be too old to compete in Cannes Young Lions, but we’ll be standing on the side, cheering for the next generation of Cohn & Wolfers to get their chance to shine. And we’re looking forward to seeing not only all agency leaders from the ICCO Summit, but their junior PR-talents as well.

See you in Cannes!