You’re busy. We get it. Your day is stacked out with back-to-back meetings, answering emails and phone calls and meeting deadlines, and there simply isn’t the time to formulate new ideas or develop meaningful campaigns. We’ve all been there. The PR industry is a hectic one, but it’s important to remember that it is also a creative one. Focusing on creativity can generate tangible results for the clients, so it’s extremely important to give yourself the opportunity to flex your creative muscles once in a while.With a collective eight decades in the PR and marketing industry, we’ve learnt a few things over the years about maximising our creativity. Here are some tips which have helped us, and please feel free to leave a comment below with any extra tips which have helped you.
Establish the ‘why’
Scenario one: The client comes to you with a problem and asks you to generate ideas for a creative solution. In this scenario, the ‘why’ for creativity is fairly obvious – a client has an issue and they are looking for your help in addressing it.
Scenario two, though, usually takes a little more brainpower. You may notice a gap in their market or have a fantastic PR idea come to you in the middle of the night. In this scenario, you will need to convince the client of the validity of your idea. Remember that a client is unlikely to put their hard-earned resources into developing an idea, however clever, that does not add value to their business. You must be absolutely sure that your idea could generate results for the clients and be confident of its value. If there is no ‘why’ for the idea, make a note of it (more on this later) and shelve it for now. Don’t spend valuable time developing an idea which will be rejected by the client because it doesn’t fulfil their needs.
Keep the spark alive
In the last paragraph I mentioned making a note of an idea and shelving it if not totally relevant for the client at that point. Just because an idea doesn’t fit the bill right then, doesn’t mean that it never will, so it’s important to make a note of any ideas, large or small. In fact, why not keep a notebook which is specifically dedicated to jotting down ideas as and when you have them. Building a bank of thoughts, phrases, keywords, and even pictures or drawings, can serve as inspiration when you need it, and may well generate future creativity. Even the presence of an ‘ideas’ notebook can inspire more lateral thinking.
Create time in your schedule
Let’s face it, a day without emails, deadlines and phone calls is unlikely to grace us any time soon. The world of PR is a busy one. It sounds counter-intuitive to inspiring creativity but sometimes you may need to schedule in the time for a little thinking space. Choose a day without immediate deadlines or meetings and block out a couple of hours in your diary. If you can, turn off your emails for that period and give yourself the space to think about your clients’ needs and how you can best meet them. If you can, move your laptop to an environment where you can be undisturbed for a while, whether that be to a private space in the office or better still…
Get out of the office
One of the best ways to inspire creativity is to change your surroundings. After all, many authors, songwriters and other creatives have been known to lock themselves in a rural log cabin for weeks on end to get their creative juices flowing. We’re not suggesting that you go to these extremes, but try moving your creative space to a coffee shop, public library or park to give yourself a different environment in which to explore new ideas. Sometimes creativity flows best without a screen, so experiment with taking a notepad rather than your laptop, and taking the opportunity to jot down ideas more freely. You may need to test a handful of places to see which works best for you. Vibrant scenes with music playing and people chatting will work for some, whereas a more quiet and peaceful environment with great scenery will work for others.
Don’t limit your thinking
Some ideas are useful, some are good and some are really, really great. When you have a great idea which you know can add value to the client’s business, explore the many avenues in which you could utilise that idea. Don’t be beholden to what your company has done before (company guidelines permitting of course!). Perhaps the idea can be developed into a campaign for the client, or perhaps it would lend itself to a series of events. Whichever avenues you explore, make sure that you always remember the ‘why’ and that you are suggesting relevant channels which will truly add value for the client.
Get some input
This may well be the most important part of the process. Start with your colleagues and ask for their honest advice and input. From your senior directors to your work experience staff, everyone’s input at this stage is valid. It’s hard, but try not to be precious about your idea. Run the idea past people with a variety of different life experiences, and don’t just stop at your colleagues. Is your client’s audience mainly composed of middle-aged women? Ask your mum whether your idea would appeal to her. Or the audience might be a B2B one made up of SMEs. Scout out your local business group and run the idea past them. Doing this can also give the idea some clout when presenting it to the client, and shows you are serious about reaching the audience that matters to them.