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Innovation through cooperation – How sharing with our peers brings out the best in us

Lewis Wilks, Lansons, reflects on PROI EMEA Regional Summit in Paris, 2018

PROI EMEA summit

October saw Paris play host to the PROI Worldwide’s EMEA Regional Summit; a collection of 28 independent agencies from 24 countries across the region, coming together for three days to share, debate and demonstrate.

The summit brings together business owners and staff to share their experiences, explore ways of working with each other and provide examples of best practice.  It was fitting to gather in ‘The City of Light’ as the assembled agencies united to illuminate the emerging trends and insights that would spur new business opportunities and enable agency development in the coming years.

The focus of the summit was ideation and innovation, with the assembled agencies coming together in the shadow of the iconic Eiffel Tower to share strategies and tactics on this topic. As an attendee, the opportunity to discuss the future with other communicators, made one thing very clear: an independent agency’s best opportunity to challenge itself and ensure it remains truly innovative is by cooperating with others who may have similar challenges but a different approach.

Looking at our partners’ differing solutions to the common trials most independent agencies face was truly eye-opening. While some spoke on the need to differentiate your client’s content in a digitally saturated world, some declared experiential ‘in-person’ activations were the only way to stand out. While some shared the message that creating a culture of ‘group accountability’ was the best way to effectively manage an agency, others spoke of the need for leaders to spend significant time to reflect on themselves to best function in their role. We also explored new tools and technology, alternate systems of measurement and different views on how best to ensure creative thinking.

Lansons – a long-time PROI partner, with its co-founder Clare Parsons now the Chair of PROI Worldwide – also brought its unique understanding to share with the attendees. Running a practical workshop on how to inspire creativity, we shared our approach to generating new ideas; whether it’s against the backdrop of the Parisian skyline or simply in your standard, city boardroom. The message was clear, and one universally felt by participants: creativity and innovation is vital, if you’re coming up with a 12-month strategy or simply trying to develop a single piece of content.

Our approaches may have been different, but the intellectual curiosity of all attendees was central to the summit. It was this desire to have our thinking challenged and our actions questioned by one another, that was key to the true innovative spirit of the three-day meeting. Guest speaker, Hemming  Lindell – chief sales officer of Gullers Grupp perhaps said it best: ‘Research is a social process’. It’s only by interacting, sharing and ultimately questioning our behaviour that we can truly nurture innovation in our work and what better group of people to do so with, than some of our industry’s most inspiring and accomplished thinkers.

The event was hosted by PROI Worldwide Paris partner Thierry Wellhoff and Wellcom. It was co-chaired by Henning Sverdrup (Släger Kommunikasjon) and Kaija Pohjala (Cocomms)

PROI Worldwide, the world’s largest partnership of integrated independent communications agencies, was founded in Europe in 1970 and has offices in more than 135 cities in 50+ countries. With 75 agencies across five continents, PROI Worldwide is the 5th largest communications partnership in the world with more than 5,400 staff servicing 8,200+ clients worldwide and 2017 net fee income exceeding US$ 868million.