It’s widely assumed that the craft of Public Relations lacks true creativity.
I’ve always known this opinion to be untrue, having racked my brain countless times to find a newsworthy angle for my clients, however, it has still managed to send me into a poetic depression on more than one occasion.
I can often be found clutching on to my G&T, in the dark serenity of a Surry Hills wine bar, fretting about the futility of trying to encourage ingenuity in our approach when advertisers are the only ones expected to be creative. Yet, any PR person would tell you that when it comes to value for money, teamed with an innovative approach, PR gets coverage above and beyond anything advertising could achieve on the same budget. Frustrating, to say the least!
This is why I was so excited by a recent conference, held by the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), which portrayed true creativity in action.
The event, titled Creative Juices: How to think big and impress the boss, was aptly held at a moody city club called Space. With tweets flying back and forth, the filming of an impromptu amateur soap opera (with the help of an iPhone 4) and a motza of ideas to inspire us it was truly an insightful and entertaining evening.
Ryan Peal (@ryanpeal) showered us with great ways to transform our approach to brainstorming. Next time your team is really stuck, hire a maxi cab and take a ride around the city instead of meeting in the office. The visual and sensory stimuli could be just what you need to get the ball rolling, forcing the team think outside the boardroom (bored room) square.
Or try bringing outsiders in on your next brainstorm, whether it’s the client, an AE from the advertising company upstairs or your mum! The presence of new people is bound to stimulate a different style of conversation and encourage your team to think a little differently.
And there’s nothing like a little role play to get the creative juices flowing. Try approaching your next long term strategy brainstorm like this:
1. Tell the team their client is X (for the point of this exercise, let’s say Coke).
2. Think of a great campaign.
3. Now tell them that they have left this agency and are instead employed by the agency that represents Pepsi.
4. They know what Coke has in store, it’s pretty fantastic- they thought of it. What can they do to counteract the plan?
Now you have two great ideas, you can pre-empt what the competition would do and you’ve pushed your team to think that little bit harder about the brief!
Here’s another great way to push your team’s brainstorming session:
1. Tell them the brief.
2. Tell them their budget is unlimited.
3. Collate their amazing and over-the-top ideas.
4. Now scale back. Say, no, we can’t have Brad Pitt but what can we have? A lookalike? Maybe we could run a competition to find one and then use a really soft lens?
Before you know it the team will be coming up with some hilarious alternatives that could prove to be better than the original idea!
However, what resonated with me the most was a comment by Scotty Iseri (@scottyiseri). Although he also spoke a lot about the importance of being creative, he actually encouraged us to embrace the limitations of the brief.
It’s all well and good to be creative but “without a frame you’re just arting everywhere,” he said. He stressed the importance of getting a detailed brief and understanding the needs of the client.
This threw me back to Clemenger BBDO’s motto The Work The Work The Work. Indeed, despite the fun that lies in letting your creativity reign, it must inevitably come second to delivering work that best suits the client’s needs.