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Creativity is Still King

When people ask me what my favorite part of working in PR is, my answer is always, undoubtedly – being creative. So, I set out on a journey to find out if others in the communications field, especially PR, are also thinking about this powerful force.

I was excited and inspired to find the C-Factors Survey, fielded by Allison+Partners, that polled leading CEOs, CMOs and other senior executives and found creativity is one of the most influential forces driving today’s global economy. Ninety-six percent of top executives surveyed cited it as one of the top elements they want to harness to advance their business in the years ahead. However, as I continued to research trends on creativity in my industry, I was quickly saddened to find the Creativity in PR Report, co-authored by the Holmes Report and NowGoCreate in partnership with Ketchum, that creativity within PR agencies is at an all-time low. This got me thinking … what exactly is creativity?

According to one definition, creativity is “the process of producing something that is both original and worthwhile.”* Well, based on those terms, I think there is a lot of very creative PR in the marketplace: some are “stunty” or visual, some more traditional, and others are rooted in social media. Here are a couple great examples of brand creativity I’ve seen recently:

  • Coke Zero orchestrated an elaborate stunt for unsuspecting train passengers to win exclusive tickets to see Skyfall, the 23rd installment in the 007 saga. The stunt challenged people to race to a certain platform within 70 seconds, all the while dodging human obstacles throughout the busy train station.
  •  Hot Pockets recently partnered with Snoop Dog to re-create his signature song, “Drop It Like it’s Hot.” However, this new music video was titled “Pocket Like it’s Hot,” and featured the product in a hilarious way.
  • To celebrate 100 years of Oreos, the brand launched a massive social campaign to post 100 “Twists” to honor holidays, celebratory weeks, trending events and major news stories including, a rainbow to recognize LGBT and a Panda to celebrate the birth of Chinese panda Shin Shin’s baby. The celebration was not limited to just creative photos, but a variety of other creative advertising and PR initiatives.

There is also some great research on inspiring creativity within the workplace, something I feel more and more agencies, including Cone Communications, are adopting. Here are some of the key things I have found that really make a difference and help PR practitioners think “outside the box”:

  • Change your attitude – eliminate all phrases such as, “We don’t have the budget, the staff, the time,” “The brand will never go for that,” or “That’s too big of an idea.”
  • Be visual – create a special “brainstorming room” in your office; make it visual, paint it a bright color, bring toys and tchotchkes for people to play with and look at.
  •  Reward creativity – when someone comes up with a new idea – no matter how big or small –give them a pat on the back. At Cone, we nominate projects and give awards for exceptional creativity each month.
  • Share – the beauty of working with people is the ability to bounce ideas of them, to build on small ideas and make them bigger and better, and to get opinions, whether good or bad.

Based on the examples I cited, the hundreds of other campaigns out there that catch my eye on a daily basis, and the changing environment within agencies, I think PR is on the right track to win the hearts of “C-suites” nationwide. And for all my colleagues in the industry, I challenge you to keep being original, thinking big and being creative!

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