Few months ago, a leading PR firm conducted client satisfaction audit. One of the strong reactions that came from clients was that the agency does not share enough creative executable PR ideas. 2012 Holmes Report study on Creativity in PR, which surveyed more than 650 PR professionals in 35 countries, including corporate and agency, revealed that more than 50% of PR professionals felt PR creativity levels were ‘ordinary or worse.’ Year after year debacle at the Cannes is also squarely blamed on the lack of creativity amongst PR professionals by the judging panels.
There can be many reasons to this, while the agency bosses firmly believe that creativity is ingrained in their processes, executives down the line don’t feel the same. They feel that though creativity is expected from them, they are not adequately trained on creative thinking. Apart from that, PR practitioners are not even blessed with luxury of time; we are always under pressure to deliver results, which leaves us with little or no time to think something different or out of the box.
On the other hand creativity is everything for the advertising guys; they can go to any extent to bring that one big creative idea in their campaigns. They take the creative process seriously and deploy a lot more resources behind it. Specialized teams is the main difference, there are people who are exclusively hired to come up with ideas. The training is much more refined and offers their creative executives time and space to think.
While we as individuals can continue to wait until our companies help us to build the Right side of our brains or do something ourselves to learn those skills that make creative people so excessively proud. So what those simple things that we can practice to bring creativity in what we offer to our clients. With this question I went to god Google and came back with some real gems that can be very useful for all of us, which are as follows:
Be Curious: Creativity starts with a curious mind-set. Without curiosity there can be no creativity. The most curious people are the most interesting, constantly collecting experiences and ideas from everywhere. They make unexpected connections because they are open, alert and plugged in. Steve Jobs, once commented, “Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.”
Keep your mind open: Creativity in PR requires one to bea keen observer and constantly look for clues or idea-starters. Interesting ideas either can be directly applied to a current client program or can be tucked away in an ‘ideas file’ for some later date.
Be a voracious media consumer: Understand a broad number of issues and trends, especially what’s ‘newsworthy,’ ‘interesting’ ‘trendy’ or ‘important.’ The best way to persuade a client to adopt a different idea is to have evidence and research that shows an approach will work, where your reading can be of immense help.
Become Culturally Literate: Know literature, arts, science, entertainment, sports, so you can develop analogies, employ metaphors and seize potential tie-ins. I understand you cannot do everything in a day, while also following your routine activities, still schedule yourself efficiently to have a dose of something every day. For a true PR professional there is nothing like ‘Not my cup of tea,’ you need to know everything, period.
Analyze case studies: By studying the work of colleagues, you can develop insights about how public relations work, even though the problem you study appears unrelated to your client. Reading professional journals and attending professional meetings are ideal ways to learn about the experiences of others and to develop a cadre of professional contacts whose expertise you can tap later.
While you do the above, we should also:
Seek solitude: Withdraw from fatal distractions at least once in day for few minutes and create that ‘thinking time’ for yourself.
Tap triggers: Find those elements that allow you to come up with new ideas — gimmicks, gadgets, locations where you can do your best thinking.
Write down everything that comes into your mind.
Don’t throw away or reject ideas; review them later for new approaches or ‘angles’ you hadn’t considered before.
Discuss ideas with someone; organize a bouncing board for yourself. This can be someone who cares for you and your career.
Don’t try to over-scintillate. Being too ‘clever’ can often distort the solution to a problem. Also don’t even try to be too perfect as you also need have an eye on the deadline as well. Salvador Dali once said “Have no fear of perfection, you will never reach it.”
Which are the areas PR practitioners can apply creative thinking
1) New Business Pitches
2) PR Strategy to promote existing business or launch of new
3) Developing new themes for programs or stories
4) Identifying new audiences or creating new media opportunities
The above is what we as an individual can practice in the process of being more creative. But an agency is as good as the client it services. Hence corporates need to involve PR professionals’ right at the start of the creative process.
We as professionals not only need to be more persuasive about the ideas we pitch but we also need to improve on how we present those ideas to the client. Of course content is important, but the way it is presented also makes a lot of difference. Few top agencies have also started recruiting Creative Directors, who champion creativity within an organization and is now becoming as important a role as a content creator.