Telum Talks To… Andy Cairns, Managing Director, Iris Worldwide

Telum Talks To… Andy Cairns, Managing Director, Iris Worldwide

Telum recently interviewed Andy Cairns, Managing Director for Iris-Worldwide, on how the approach to creative work has evolved over the last few years.

You have more than 25 years of global experience in the PR industry. Tell us how the landscape has changed since you started in 2001.
I’ve been working in integrated advertising agencies since 1994 and despite the tectonic shifts ushered in by technology over the past 28 years (especially the past 20), our industry’s landscape still remains very familiar in my respects: great communication still has genuine consumer insight at its core, is still useful and interesting and still aims to change behaviour in some shape or form. The outputs may look fundamentally different and the lexicon may have changed, but the fundamentals remain the same.

Do you think cancel culture is killing creativity?
Not really. The best definition I can recall for creativity is “the defeat of habit by originality”. On that basis I think real creativity transcends the ephemeral tides of social media sentiment.

How do you foster creativity in your team?
Firstly, by reinforcing the fact that creativity isn’t a department or an output. Creativity is an abiding view that the world needs to be more interesting and it belongs to all of us. Secondly, by reminding my team - as well as my clients - that creativity remains our greatest superpower when it comes to solving client business problems. And finally, by encouraging cognitive difference - human beings like conformity; creativity come from actively embracing difference.

How do you define a good and effective creative PR campaign?
It would have to be a campaign that I’d be proud to share with friends and colleagues. Simply because it’s interesting and effective - as any campaign should be.

How does PR in Asia differ from Australia, the US or the UK, in your experience?
When it comes to the fundamentals; very little. I think there is a natural inclination for people - no matter where they ply their trade - to think that “we do things differently here” but PR and communication still focus around people and on that basis our core needs, aspirations and frustrations - those things don’t change just because you’re in a different time zone.

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