In this guest post, co-founder of PR agency Aruga, Adam Brunes (main photo), argues the PR dicipline is quick to play its “creative” card, but what does that even mean in this highly creative world?
Every PR agency in this country professes to be creative.
Regardless of agency size or style, of attitude or approach, it seems everyone leans on creativity as their key point of difference.
Yet, it’s a term that is impossible to quantify: does an agency need to bulldoze and reimagine the status quo to be considered creative? Or will sprinkling a little glitter over an existing idea be enough to claim the title?
With such a broad interpretation, “creativity” has lost its way. It’s become an empty buzzword that has lost all meaning.
For a PR agency to genuinely own its claim on creativity, it must first earn that right.
It must demonstrate that creativity powers its very core from the team it hires and the ideas it creates, to the work it produces and the results it delivers.
The past year has borne witness to widespread upheaval across Australia’s media landscape as newspapers cease publication, magazine titles fold, television and radio adopt syndicated models and troves of journalists are made redundant.
We are not in the business of media relations any more, we are in the business of talkability.
This shift has seen an increase in campaign-based activity from PR agencies, not dissimilar to what we’d traditionally expect from a marketing or brand agency.
These creative, multi-pronged campaigns are designed to leverage all opportunities for brand visibility and talkability, be it media relations, an owned content channel, social strategy, brand ambassadors or partnership agreements.
To cut through a crowded media space, the onus is increasingly on PR agencies to create newsworthiness.
To do that, we need to engage big thinkers who can dream up the ideas and campaigns that get people talking.
Looking beyond our own industry is imperative – be it harnessing the skills of a freelancer or compiling a cross-sector advisory council – to imbue agencies with original and unconventional frames of reference.
An agency’s genuine creativity is grounded in the connection it has to the creative sector.
Hire from a broad range of backgrounds and across an array of skillsets, welcome journalists and editors, advertising copywriters and graphic designers alongside experienced account managers and directors.
Tapping into a team’s artistic and creative sensibility will influence how an agency approaches campaigns and campaign delivery.
PR and advertising agencies have, historically, worked relatively independently.
While we swim in the same pool, we’re considered two different disciplines.
However, as the lines between earned and owned media blur and we seek new ways to generate talkability, the time is ripe to unlock the potential of true creative partnership.
We get better results when we work together.
Advertising agencies can leverage our nous to identify the PR outcome of an ad campaign or finesse an idea to develop the potential for earned media.
In turn, we can lean on an advertising agency’s mastery across succinctness and impact: the ability to convey a message or make a point in lightning speed and create a “stickiness” where that message or point lingers in your mind.
To become great at anything, you need to practice.
A truly creative agency must keep that creativity honed by seeking out and absorbing it at every opportunity, be it live performance, an art installation, a festival, a restaurant opening or an industry forum.
Authentic connection to the most creative members of our community is paramount; hearing their conversations, witnessing their output and learning from their craft.
This connection, this unrelenting hunger for new ideas, is what legitimises and distinguishes an agency’s creative credentials.
Aruga was B&T’s 2019 & 2020 PR Agency of the Year.