A Roaring Success – What It’s Like to Be a Cannes Young Lions Finalist

It’s the career milestone all agency professionals dream about. That pivotal moment when you take a deep breath, walk into the room, and nail your first big client pitch for a million-dollar creative campaign.

The Cannes Young Lions competition—part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—allows up-and-coming PR professionals to experience that moment—and the blood, sweat and tears that go into the creative process. VOX Global’s own Amy Jacobsen and Nik Laabs, as well as another VOX team comprised of Emily Woodell and Kristina Carson, were among dozens of teams who took on this year’s challenge to develop a campaign that increases brand recognition and drives new donations for The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation (JAJF).

Hear from Amy and Nik about being one of five teams to make the U.S. Young Lions PR finals, and what it was like to get to pitch their ideas to JAJF’s founder:

Tell us a little about the process for competing in the Young Lions program.

Overall, the process was quick, but intense. After receiving the creative brief from the prospective “client,” The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation, we had two weeks to develop our insight, strategy and tactical plan for meeting the campaign’s objectives. And after learning that we were selected as one of five finalists to pitch the client in New York, we had about a week to prepare our presentation.

What do you think were your biggest advantages going into the client pitch in New York?

We had the option of selecting one of two audience groups: baby boomers or millennials. Surprisingly, we were the only duo out of the five finalists that chose baby boomers—making our presentation stand out from the start. And, because of this client’s focus on supporting late-stage cancer patients and their families, we really focused on the emotional aspect of fundraising by including a bold manifesto that spoke to both the head and the heart.

From right to left: VOX Global’s Niklas Laabs and Amy Jacobsen with JAJF Founder and President Jon Albert, his colleague Jennifer Kanter as well as Sarah Connolly and Paula Verkuylen from FH (who placed second in this year’s Young Lions PR Competition)

What were some of the most important things you learned from Young Lions?

First, this was a fantastic opportunity to experience the new business process from start to finish—from the RFP and insight mining to the development of tactics and the client pitch. We also saw a lot of value in going through a GPS brainstorm to identify the insights or human truths that informed our strategic approach.

How did you balance the competition with your regular workload?

We knew from speaking with the program organizers that this would be a big undertaking, and so we made a point to carve out time for this project outside of business hours to give it the attention it deserved. We would hop on the phone during our lunch breaks or on our commutes home to brainstorm and talk through ideas. In total, we probably spent about 60 hours developing our response to the creative brief and our presentation for New York. So, it was a big commitment, but worth the opportunity!

What advice would you have for other young professionals who are interested in competing in future Young Lions programs?

  • Don’t be afraid to put forth big ideas and tap into the emotions behind what you’re pitching.
  • Take advantage of connections within your professional network for mentoring and practice sessions, and reference case studies to replicate what works.
  • Ask a lot of questions!

A Roaring Success – What It’s Like to Be a Cannes Young Lions Finalist

It’s the career milestone all agency professionals dream about. That pivotal moment when you take a deep breath, walk into the room, and nail your first big client pitch for a million-dollar creative campaign.
The Cannes Young Lions competition—part of the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity—allows up-and-coming PR professionals to experience that moment—and the blood, sweat and tears that go into the creative process. VOX Global’s own Amy Jacobsen and Nik Laabs, as well as another VOX team comprised of Emily Woodell and Kristina Carson, were among dozens of teams who took on this year’s challenge to develop a campaign that increases brand recognition and drives new donations for The Jack & Jill Late Stage Cancer Foundation (JAJF).
Hear from Amy …

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