This week, I witnessed something extraordinary: A group of “the greats” in the public relations and communications world came together to challenge each other to produce award-winning work for an important client – the future. On any other day, they might be described as competitors. But what I saw them display was something even more ambitious. They were collaborators.

As part of the meetings at the Cannes Lions Festival, these executives talked about ways to make the Sustainable Development Goals a bigger and better part of their work. They discussed how the global goals can serve as a new and fresh approach to corporate social responsibility for their clients and employees.

The conversation gave the United Nations Foundation the chance to continue to engage with public relations and creative agencies that have participated as part of the “Communications Corps” during the past two years. These groups worked with us to share information, exchange best practices, and provide tools to help reach and inform the public about the launch of the global goals for sustainable development.

Today’s meeting in Cannes included:

  •  Jack Leslie, Global Chair, Weber Shandwick (@jackleslie)
  • Toygar Bazarkaya, ‎Chief Creative Officer, Americas, Havas Worldwide (@Bazarkaya)
  • Patti Clifford, Chief Talent Officer, Havas Group (@PattiClifford)
  • Gail Gallie, Co-Founder, Project Everyone (@gailgallie)
  • Mike Kriak, Chief Operating Officer & Chief Financial Officer, Mashable (@mkriak)

But the story goes even further. A long list of agencies has been part of the Communications Corps over the past few months. The list of those who have participated include:

  • APCO
  • Boncom
  • ColorComm
  • Edelman
  • Fenton
  • Fleishman Hillard
  • Glover Park Group
  • Havas
  • KYNE
  • McCann
  • McPherson Strategies
  • Ogilvy
  • PCI
  • Porter Novelli
  • Portland Communications
  • PYXERA Global
  • Sunshine Sachs
  • UN
  • VOX Global
  • Weber-Shandwick
  • Women Online
  • Wunderman
  • Zoom PR

Our conversation focused on a few core ideas:

  • The global goals have helped bring together new kinds of partnerships between agencies, their clients, and the community that supports the United Nations.
  •  Some of the smartest brands today will engage with their customers and partners about the Sustainable Development Goals. They provide a way for companies to match their individual corporate responsibility plans with urgent needs and efforts on the global scene.
  • Embracing sustainability through mechanisms like the global goals can help agencies recruit, retain, and reward talent.

One of my favorite moments during the meeting happened when the panelists challenged one another to produce award-winning work that would get the attention of the people who judge and award the Cannes Lions. It reinforced how important it is for these groups to push the boundaries of creativity. After all, as Jack Leslie said this morning, “This is the community that knows how to motivate people.” What more important set of goals to motivate people about than those that will help build a better world?

For more information on the Communications Corps, click here.