5 Tips to Get in Your #Creative #PR Groove
Years ago, I was a PR person working at a creative marketing communications agency. The company had three distinct divisions: PR / Communications (that was my area), Creative Marketing & Advertising and Web, Multimedia & Video. At the time, I was not intimately involved in the brainstorming, creative design and the development of innovative marketing concepts at my firm. However, when a client from the PR side of the house needed some branding work, creative design for a media kit, or a newsroom, it was so much fun to work with the marketing and web teams. We shared ideas, concepts and I was able to watch how creative ideas came to life.
Fast-forward 15+ years, and the scope of my day has most certainly changed. The role I play creatively is distinctly different. What happened between then and now? PR has EXPANDED.
Today, PR is very much involved in different types of creative work. It’s most apparent with PR agencies that are changing their structures. Some are hiring in-house creative professionals and building creative teams or finding great creative partners. Because of social media, we’re able to use our creativity and apply our skills in other areas that were not traditionally in our wheelhouse. At the same time, we’re working more closely with marketing, branding, digital and web teams. We’re learning to think and develop creatively for our own programs. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to PR and we need to take advantage of all of the new responsibilities.
If you’re seeing these new opportunities and you really want to get into your creative PR groove, then here are a few areas for you to explore that may help you to expand your creative practice:
Tip #1: PR Tech Test and Use Creative Tools. There are so many creative tools that allow you to build visuals to make your content come to life. PR pros are “tech testing” by rolling up their sleeves and learning how to develop infographics with the help of tools including Piktochart and Vizualize.me. There are also resources such as Canva that allow you to use simple design software to create presentations, brochure covers, posters and photo collages. Of course, if you’re looking for a reasonable design solution where you can manage the creative process, then services such as eLance are cost effective. You can have designers bid on your project and create designs for you.
Tip #2: Learn More About Color. Color is an important element in the development of your brand and the customer experience. You have to make sure that the colors you use in your designs and imagery are consistent across a number of platforms and formats. The colors you use on the web are not the same colors you use for print. There are tools and resources to learn more about color. For example, Adobe Kuler lets you to explore the rules of color, what colors are complementary and how to make custom colors. With Adobe Kuler you can generate color schemes and use them for your creative projects.
Tip #3: Open up Your Brainstorm. Don’t limit your brainstorm to people who are always familiar with your projects and who will have biases based on what they know. It’s great to open up your brainstorm to get a new perspective. There are companies that go far beyond the marketing and PR departments to get input on a creative concept, project design or visual experience. You can take your brainstorm to the next level by involving other people in your company, the folks who are not limited in their thinking and will offer you a fresh set of eyes.
Tip #4: Dive into Data for More Creative Angles. Take the time to look at different types of data. From website traffic and social media analytics to interesting sales trends about your customers, the data you have may help you to pitch interesting story angles to the media. Show your journalists that you have more insights than they do about customer behavior and emerging market trends. When you start comparing data sets from different areas of your company, you may walk away with some interesting observations that can lead to great creative pitches and stories.
Tip #5: Read Creative Blogs. It’s time to expand your reading into the creative realm. If you’re looking for the best blogs, then you should check out Alltop.com, which is still my favorite online magazine rack. At Alltop you can search for design bloggers right down to the ones that focus on “Just Creative” or “Think Design.” You can also look for creative marketing and advertising blogs to expand your frame of reference. In addition, there are a number of art blogs to spark your creative juices. Tapping into creative communities is a great way to draw out your own creative PR thinking.
There are so many ways to enhance your creative PR. Getting in the groove may take some time and effort, but it’s definitely worth the investment when you’re able to create compelling stories but that you can visually bring to life through various channels and formats. At the same time, what you’re learning helps you to work with other areas of marketing. You’re also speaking an integrated language, bringing your PR out of a silo and into a larger world of creative communication.
How do you get into your creative PR groove?
March 12, 2015 @ 1:15 pm
Great post, D, which is now in my Buffer queue to share. I hadn’t thought about #3 before. Re: Brainstorming/ideation/creative sessions, invest in bringing in a trained, experienced facilitator. We know how to maximize your session, derive much more creative, strategic, and most important, effective ideas and solutions from your session, and minimize the negative things that so often occur in a classic brainstorm, and that most of us hate! Disclosure: I’m a trained, certified facilitator. And I’m sharing what I know to be true based on facilitating hundreds of sessions.
March 12, 2015 @ 1:28 pm
Thank you, Ken! An excellent suggestion. Bringing in the outside expert as a part of #3 can really help a team to reach maximum creative potential. I also agree that you’re minimizing the negative, which is so important. It’s the negative that surfaces quickly and stifles the group, producing less results. I really appreciate you sharing your insights based on your experience.
March 15, 2015 @ 11:39 pm
This post is extremely helpful! I checked right away all the links which whet my appetite for delving further into those tools.
My creativity level is below average. I do not mean to berate myself but I really admire those who can instantly doodle, pick the right color combination, and play on words, music, and images. I am not like that. I think linearly, that goes against “outside the box” thinking – which is second nature to PR professionals. However, I am positive about learning and defeating challenges and so I am humbly absorbing constructive comments from my instructors. One said that despite my skill in writing, I am an orthodox writer. Another commented that I am beginning to get out of my usual design pattern, but along the way, I tend to come back to square one. I guess, that explains my logical thought pattern.
Your tips, from one to five, will certainly help me to exercise my creative muscles. It is great to be reminded as well of some lessons in my courses such as the use of AIDA (Attention – Interest – Desire – Action) model in Business Writing and in Marketing. In PR, it is the AITEA (Awareness – Interest – Trial – Evaluation – Adoption) model that guides us in creating persuasive message. Market convergence, as we know it to be swiftly changing the work of PR, Marketing or Advertising today, dictates the overwhelming need to be creative. Competing for one’s attention is increasingly difficult due to the presence of many alternatives. Sustaining one’s interest is another tough one to contend with as much as compelling our audience to act upon our message.
We live in an era where creativity is a must in a PR’s portfolio. Thank you for your very valuable suggestions on how I can improve mine.
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
March 16, 2015 @ 9:53 am
Hi Marilyn, thanks for your very thoughtful comment. The first step toward anything new is always realizing that we have more to learn. It’s great that you are positive about defeating challenges and taking constructive comments. At the same time, if you continue to introduce and experiment with new tools and techniques to add to your Creative PR toolkit, then you will advance and grow. Not only will you be creative “in the box” but also as you stretch the outer limits and go newer territories (“out of the box”) as a result of market convergence and integration. It’s an exciting time and it sounds like you’re ready to embrace the opportunities that are ahead. Good luck getting into your Creative PR Groove and I’m really happy that my article can be a helpful part of your creative process.
March 16, 2015 @ 12:04 pm
Thank you very much Deirdre! I am looking forward to learning more from your posts!
March 16, 2015 @ 12:14 pm
My pleasure, Marilyn. Let me know if you ever have any questions as you move forward on your creative PR journey 🙂
March 16, 2015 @ 11:12 pm
Thank you. I would definitely do that.
March 26, 2015 @ 3:50 pm
Thank you for the highly useful and informative read. These tips are good guidelines for every day, creative PR writing. I was especially interested in what you had to say about color. Are there colors or combinations we should avoid? How often do you run into the problems you mentioned in relation to color (printing vs. electronic display, displeasing arrangements)? I especially enjoyed the part about brainstorming outside of the typical network. I practice this every day, it’s important for me to find new perspectives on projects. Thanks again.
March 26, 2015 @ 4:17 pm
Hi John, I’m glad you enjoyed the article and found the tips useful. With respect to color I always use the color wheel to see which colors go best together, and then include them as a secondary palette. So, for example, on the Adobe Kuler site, you can pick a color on the wheel and it will show you the best colors to enhance your 1st color choice. The wheel will guide you so that you avoid selecting colors that don’t work together. With respect to electronic vs. print colors, there are tools that show you the RGB to CMYK conversion. This way the colors match more closely as you move from web to ink colors. Hope this info is helpful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!