The adventures of Robby Corrado & Tristan Hills-Bos

Like Don Quixote, we left for Barcelona to reignite the chivalric ideal, whilst eat as much tapas our appetites could stomach, dance as much salsa our feet could bear, and pick up an award that we think had something to do with us approaching PR in the right way within the Middle East…

  • After 15 months of managing PR activity across the Middle East, I’d be lying if I claimed this to be the most arduous task set by our leadership

However, unlike the unobtainable romantic idealism of Don Quixote’s quest, what ensured was an appreciation of the profound reality of kinship held under the global roof of firm. We were the fortunate few to celebrate in the tangible proof of the company’s success, but most importantly we did it with a diverse group of nationalities from a range of different offices. Individuals who, whether from Holland, Poland, Turkey, Italy, or the UK, grapple with the same trials and tribulations we do, witness the same opportunities and successes we do, and express their creativity within the same unique culture, no matter how diverse our markets are or how complex the subject of PR is.

As has always been one of our valued assets, the brilliance of our collective of individuals, who work, laugh, and push the boundaries of comms together—was on full display last week in Barcelona.

Quite an apt realization during an event that saw our team collect the award for ‘Best Pan-European Agency to Work For.’

The SABRE Awards are acknowledged as one of the world’s most sought after public relations awards ceremonies. The awards recognize Superior Achievement in Branding and Reputation in North America, EMEA and the Asia-Pacific region; and as Justin paraphrases: are ‘the Oscars of the EMEA PR industry.’ In other words, Robby and I were rubbing shoulders with the Brad Pitts and Meryl Streeps of the PR world. The one major and enjoyable difference being that THERE WERE NO ACCEPTANCE SPEECHES! instead, the microphone was strategically taped to the host, Paul Holmes’ face, not even allowing for a rogue Kanye West “I’m going to let you finish” moment.

In total we managed to win 7 awards that included two agency awards – Middle East Agency of the Year 2013 and Best Pan-European Agency to Work For, two Gold SABRE Awards – Consumer Marketing: New Product for ‘Experience: Halo for Halo 4’ (Xbox) and Pharmaceutical: RX for ‘Melanoma: A Matter of Time’ (Roche Italy), and three Silver SABRE Awards – Special Event for ‘Experience: Halo for Halo 4’ (Xbox), PR Agency Website for our Editions, and Media Placement: Digital for ‘Support the Dream’ U.S. Olympic Program (Hilton HHonours). The Halo 4 campaign for Xbox was also shortlisted in the Platinum Award category for the best public relations campaign of the year in the EMEA region. This category cannot be entered into, but the judges select 5 of the best campaigns entered into the SABREs.

Although Robby and I got to enjoy the celebrations and soak in the collective excitement of the awards ceremony, I hope that everyone within our office takes a moment to appreciate its significance. The trophy tangibly captures your sweat and tears, in its finely sculptured silver curves. It is physical proof of the creativity and professionalism that you deliver on a day-to-day basis. Awards, particularly the SABRE Awards, are not merely a glamorous, sugar-coating of the work we do, but a validation of the work we do and how we do it; a validation provided by the leading analysts of our industry. So appreciate it, enjoy it and celebrate the hard work you put in, because we’re doing something right!

With the emphasis of this year’s SABRE Awards think-tank on story-telling, in particular the ‘operationability’ (if Shakespeare created words, why can’t I) of story-telling and the challenge of developing an elevator pitch or action idea summarizing one’s story arc, I leave you with a story arc that although not quite as emotive as Hemmingway’s – ‘For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn’ – manages to capture my experience:

‘Our UAE specimen finds global family at PR-Oscars.’

PS: Filling in the gaps, Robby and I did manage to satisfy our appetites both with the amount of tapas we ate and the amount of moves cut on the dance floor. Mission accomplished.