Looking for a Public Relations Agency? Use our Free matching service to find the right agency for you.

User login

PRCA National Awards Judge's Corner: Jo Patterson, Porter Novelli London


In the build up to the prestigious PRCA National Awards, we spoke with one of the Awards judges, Jo Patterson, Managing Director, Porter Novelli London, to get her insights into what makes a great communications campaign.


What does innovation mean to you as it relates to communications campaigns?

In a digitally driven world we usually think about comms innovation as a way of harnessing platforms, tech and algorithms. Every brand campaign has to be on Tik Tok. Every insight fuelled by data scraped from millions of key strokes. But innovation can be human. Or simple. Or cultural. When I think about ‘innovation’ in campaigns over the last few years, the word somehow translates in my head as memorability, which gets me to the missing letters that refilled Britain’s blood banks. A reformulated sausage roll. Even an avocado as a millennial train ticket. Innovation for me isn’t about digital routes to market, it’s about coming up with an idea that refuses to be ignored.

What’s more important to you – trying to reinvent the wheel or take solid, proven campaign strategy and delivering it exceptionally well?

I suppose the answer above gives this one away. I’m a sucker for a brilliant idea. And you know when you come across one because first your heart sings at the creative chutzpah of this industry, then you wish you’d thought of it yourself. It could be a beautifully matched partnership. A smartly recruited and relevant ambassador. A build or an experience that pops. A witty or thoughtful piece of content that taps the moment. The best ideas are rooted in humanity, empathy and humour, they spark recognition and provoke reaction. A solid campaign strategy delivered well pays the mortgage and keeps your client happy. A humdinger of an idea that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up wins awards.

What are the core pillars to a great communications campaign?

1. Understanding your audience. Where do they hang out, how do they spend their time, what do they care about? Every brilliant idea needs to keep the people it wants to talk to front and centre, otherwise it runs the risk of eating itself.

2. What’s the insight at the heart of your campaign? Horribly overused and repeatedly confused, an insight isn’t a thinly veiled brand ambition, it’s a little piece of magical, intuition or intelligence fuelled DNA that unlocks your audience.

3. Simple execution. The best ideas don’t need to be overbaked – instantly gettable is good.

4. Proof of impact – proper, independent, irrefutable data that your clients can lob back into their business with a demand for more budget next time.


This years PRCA National Awards headline sponsor, 3Gem global market research helps you to understand your audience, get a measure of your market, gather feedback on new concepts and drive PR and marketing campaigns. The Awards are also sponsored by Firstpoint Print Victoria, Kantar, Milk and Honey PR, Polpeo, Reuben Sinclair, Ginger Comms, and Intrado.