PR’s creativity conundrum

PR’s creativity conundrum
SHARE
THIS



Seriously, PR people, what is the big idea and where is it coming from?

I recently challenged some PR professionals to name the best PR-led campaign of the year. The responses were underwhelming. No-one could name a creative idea that took on a life of its own through the media and social media like Tourism Queensland’s ‘Best job in the world’, now almost five years old.

I was, however, overwhelmed with reasons for the dearth of examples – from client reticence to think big, budget constraints and idea-hogging agencies through to heavy workloads, media cynicism and a Tall Poppy Syndrome that demands we don’t put our clients’ heads too far above the parapet.

The response, and an acknowledgement that the PR industry is suffering a creative deficit, saddens me.

In smaller markets like ours, Australian operators have historically been clever with limited budgets. We have been skilled at pioneering. We have ensured cut-through by generating campaigns that the media and public simply couldn’t ignore.

I don’t subscribe to beliefs that ad agencies have a mortgage on creativity because of their bigger budgets, stronger client relationships and business structure, where strategists, creatives, suits and buyers are all expected to innovate.

Superb storytelling, content creation and audience insights – the key factors that drive creative marketing campaigns – are as much the domain of PR practitioners. Our client rapport is traditionally strong too, given the tight spots we often help our clients out of.

Australian PR practitioners need to stop looking at external factors and take a good look in the mirror when decrying the lack of creativity in our industry.

Let’s stop kidding ourselves. PRers see creativity as a fundamental skill, a core component that everyone has and utilises each day, much like writing or pitching a story, creating and implementing a social media strategy or staging an experiential event. To a large extent, that’s true. But when the pressure goes on and workloads increase it’s too easy to say “I’m too busy to focus on creativity, I just need to get this done”.

Consultancies can also be hindered by hierarchy. Our teams often have an account director who is supported by an account manager and/or executive. The ‘boss’ generally determines the strategy; the ‘workers’ are implementation drones. Positive two-way communication can at times be limited.

It’s also another reason why creative directors don’t fly in the PR sphere. Account teams are often sector-specific – for instance, health specialists don’t tend to juggle finance, technology and entertainment clients as well – and the AD is deemed best to drive creativity given their enhanced product/service knowledge in that particular industry.

The process of idea-generation can also be flawed. Nine times out of 10, a group brainstorm is the go-to approach, often at short notice with extreme deadlines, a rudimentary brief and in a sterile environment that does little to get the creative juices flowing.

Then there’s the fact that creativity generally isn’t rewarded in PR. The response to a campaign is cherished more than the actual idea that generated the noise.

It’s time to get real in addressing PR’s creativity conundrum. We can’t just say we’re too swamped to focus on creativity. We need to create the right environment for big idea generation.

First off, nurture creativity. Brainstorm at the right time in the right environment, but mix up the group dynamic with other idea-generating techniques – outside people, morphological matrixing, mind-mapping, random stimuli and the like. Create an ideas library and add fresh eyes to your account teams to hunt for areas of opportunity.

Secondly, research creativity. Put together a list of your favourite campaigns (IBM at 100, Old Spice Man and Dove Real Beauty are good starters) and examine why they resonated with the media and public. What was their purpose, what benefits did they provide ‘end-users’ and what channels and mechanisms did they use to reach their audience?

And, finally, celebrate creativity. Rejoice in left-field idea generation and recognise and reward innovation.

Media releases and social posts come and go. Creative campaigns endure. We just need to give ourselves the time and resources to appreciate what’s most important for us, and for our clients.

Jackie Crossman is managing director of Crossman Communications. 

Please login with linkedin to comment

Latest News

Bauer’s Cosmo Named Official Mardi Gras Media Partner
  • Marketing
  • Media

Bauer’s Cosmo Named Official Mardi Gras Media Partner

Bauer Media has announced Cosmopolitan magazine as an official media partner of the 2018 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. COSMO’s Mardi Gras sponsorship will deliver a month-long celebration of activities in the Parade’s 40th anniversary year. In addition to the event sponsorship, COSMO is producing its second Pride Issue for March, on sale 5th […]

A Guide To Understanding Your Digital Marketer
  • Opinion

A Guide To Understanding Your Digital Marketer

In this guest column, Logie-nominated journalist, Leisa Goddard (main photo), who is also the managing director of media, PR and digital agency, Adoni Media, offers her personal guide to making your way through digital marketing buzzwords and gobbledygook… Do you feel as though your digital marketer speaks to you in a language you don’t understand? In today’s highly-competitive world […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD
  • Advertising

SpotX Appoints Gavin Buxton As Asia MD

Video advertising platform SpotX has announced it has appointed Gavin Buxton as managing director of Asia to lead the company’s expansion in the region. Buxton has over 17 years’ global experience in the digital advertising space, having worked in leadership roles at tech and publishing companies, including Microsoft, Turner Broadcasting, and LinkedIn, with the last […]

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Big Mobile Doubles Down On Ad Tech & Rebrands

B&T Awards 2017 finalist Big Mobile has unveiled a fresh look to reflect its new ad tech credentials. The company successfully pivoted its business from ad network to mobile ad tech vendor when it announced a joint venture (JV) with Widespace in October last year. As a result of the business changes, Big Mobile wanted […]

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager
  • Advertising

March One Appoints New Senior Account Manager

Independent ad agency March One has appointed a fresh face to the team, with Melanie Tozer to reinforce its mission to put humans first as a senior account manager. Tozer (pictured above), an up-and-coming talent from New Zealand, will align her extensive experience in FMCG marketing with March One, having worked on accounts for Bunnings […]

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018
  • Opinion
  • Technology

What To Expect From The App Economy In 2018

Here's an insightful, authoritative synopsis of the app economy. So, you're right, it wasn't written by a B&T journo.

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Farm Foods Rebrands To Target Modern Aussie Families Via Tiny Hunter
  • Marketing

Farm Foods Rebrands To Target Modern Aussie Families Via Tiny Hunter

Seasoned meat supplier Farm Foods Butchers has rebranded its selection of sausages, burgers, meatballs and ready-to-cook meat products to appeal to the modern Aussie family. The 100 per cent family-owned and operated business based in Breakwater, Victoria worked with Sydney-based branding and packaging design company Tiny Hunter. Together, they created a brand which connects with […]

Animal Logic Shows Off New Website In Collaboration With Protein One
  • Marketing
  • Media

Animal Logic Shows Off New Website In Collaboration With Protein One

Aussie visual FX and feature animation studio Animal Logic has unveiled its new web experience – a reimagined website – in collaboration with Sydney digital agency Protein One. Animal Logic felt it was important to engage a local digital agency to represent its brand online. The company’s online personality was one that required a team […]

Raunchy Marathon Ad Causes Utter Confusion
  • Campaigns

Raunchy Marathon Ad Causes Utter Confusion

B&T likes to award the "dumbest ad of the day" with a 15-inch devon knob. And this would be a processed meats shoe-in.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Red Agency Wins Bio-Oil PR Account
  • Marketing

Red Agency Wins Bio-Oil PR Account

Red Agency staff set to challenge for the record for most people to squeeze into a lift after winning Bio-Oil business.