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?