How to Put the Creative Into Public Relations

July 4 2022

The practice of public relations requires a variety of skills: strategy, communication, analytics and creativity. All of these components blend to create a colorful, evocative, engaging and informative landscape. Those who excel in the strategic and analytical side may not have the same natural aptitude when it comes to creativity, and even the best strategy cannot save a bad idea. The good news is that it is never too late to learn how to flex your creative muscles.

creativity is a key skill in PR
PR requires a variety of skills – and creativity is among them

Just as positivity breeds positivity, saturating your atmosphere with thoughts and ideas from intelligent, innovative thinkers will fuel your creativity. It is human nature to be impacted by your surroundings, so it only makes sense to steep yourself in what you seek. When your well of creativity has seemingly run dry, use these four tips to retrain your brain’s way of thinking.

1) Pay Attention to Your Landscape: Curiosity Leads to Innovation

Shaking up your routine with new content can help shape a more innovative mindful landscape. When you are intentional to seek out and research topics of interest you will often stumble upon thought leaders and innovators engaging in discussions and sharing insights that will shift your mindset out of the typical patterns of your day-to-day. Look outside of the industry standards to find out who is pushing the boundaries with the most effective and integrated campaigns. Something completely unexpected could spark your next brilliant idea.

Be curious and consider what has come before in the industry to better identify where there may be some gaps or new ways to interpret a story. Bear in mind that sometimes the best idea can be reframing an old one. Ask yourself how you can present relevant information in a way that hasn’t been done before. Try working backward to give yourself a different perspective and inform a more creative thought process.

At its core, creativity is about open-minded problem solving and communication. It’s easy to go overboard with outlandish ideas, so remember to keep the solution at the heart of your overall strategy. After all, the target audiences you wish to reach are the ultimate decision-makers and your creativity should speak directly to them.

2) Change Your Surroundings

As important as it is to expand your digital surroundings and the media you consume, it can be just as impactful to alter your physical surroundings. Sitting at a desk in a familiar place is typically conducive to left-brain thinking and can limit your creativity. While your daily workload may require you to close off your mind in order to focus and accomplish tasks, this headspace makes it incredibly challenging to generate innovative thoughts or visual concepts. If you find yourself struggling to shift between these mental gears, go for a walk to clear your mind and welcome new stimulants. Creativity rarely strikes when conditions remain static.

When you allow yourself space to breathe, you reduce your stress and invite your brain’s right hemisphere to shine. A sight or interaction could inspire you to reimagine how an intended audience could experience a given message. Go beyond your typical walls to allow new ideas to bubble to the surface. Even a small change to your current environment – like moving to a different part of the office – could evoke refreshing streams of thought.

3) Brainstorm with a “No Bad Ideas” Policy

It can be difficult to reduce pressure when you’re carrying the responsibility of delivering a creative plan or storyline. Hold a brainstorming session with your team and give them the space they need to express ideas. Keep in mind that there may be a member who doesn’t feel comfortable sharing an idea for fear of judgment or criticism, so work to create a fun and relaxing environment where ideas can flow.

Adopt a “no bad ideas” policy to create a safe space for everyone to voice their thoughts. It may not filter the winning idea, but it could certainly spark an interesting conversation that leads to a stellar development. Just like a cold engine in winter, your brain needs to warm up to a different way of thinking about the topic. It often takes a significant number of bad ideas in a brainstorming session to uncover the good ones.

When considering a new idea, ensure your whole team has an understanding of the goals as well as the audience’s needs. Creativity will come when you work together to build the bridge between these two endpoints. Inviting team members with different life experiences and perspectives to share their thoughts will facilitate well-rounded discussions.

4) Empathize with the Audience

Create an audience experience with a solid takeaway for the brand you’re seeking to promote. No matter the variety of pain points, customers want to know how a product or service can improve their lives. Rather than talking about a need that the brand fulfills directly or even what sets it apart from competitors, consider creating messages that emotionally motivate the target audience to select your brand.

Tell a story where audiences can easily insert themselves into the narrative and describe a scenario to include your brand providing an element they desire. Aim to leave them with a feeling that resides long after they’ve read or heard the message. If you are developing messaging for a coffee company, you know the competition is vast. Understand how people are making their selections and allow your mind to explore how to better connect with the audiences’ needs.

Folgers created moments. It may not be the best-tasting coffee in the world, but Folgers took the time to understand what coffee means to its customers. It could be the smell of home or a moment of “me time.” Taking a similar approach of constructing a very personal connection is an effective way to fling open the creative doors to a variety of relatable possibilities.

Key Takeaways

If you ever feel that your imagination has diminished, remember that it takes a willingness to change to unlock innovation. Don’t hold back good ideas by struggling to come up with them all on your own. Bringing your team together to share in the ideation will get you far. Have the courage to express even the silliest of ideas to push beyond the status quo and stay curious to maintain your creative strength. When you hit a mental block, look at the objective from a different angle or alter your physical space to foster new discoveries. As long as you keep your intended audience in mind and seek to convey a relevant message, grab the creativity keys and forge your own path. It’s thought leaders like you that the rest of the world will follow.

Natalie Ghidotti
CEO, Ghidotti
Natalie Ghidotti, APR, is principal of Ghidotti, a public relations and content marketing agency she founded in 2007 and has since grown to serve a wide range of clients, including some of the region’s best-known brands. Before joining the public relations world in 2004, Natalie served as special publications editor-in-chief at Arkansas Business Publishing Group, where she was editor of Little Rock Family, Arkansas Bride, Little Rock Guest Guide and other magazines for five years. Natalie is a past president of the Arkansas Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, serves on the Executive Committee for PRSA National’s Counselors Academy and has been a speaker for several PRSA International Conferences. She was honored with the Crystal Award from PRSA Arkansas recognizing lifetime achievements in the PR industry.
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