In this line of work, creativity is a daily essential. Sometimes that means coming up with a fun-filled consumer-facing campaign, but as a largely B2B PR, for me it’s more often than not a case of making complicated products and services accessible and engaging.
As you might imagine, this can be an uphill battle. Luckily, I work for an agency which prioritises staff development, and this week, we had external creativity training. In the interest of full disclosure, I will say that I am not the easiest student. When I’ve got a million deadlines on the doorstop, it takes a minute or two to get my mind off the task list and on to the task at hand.
However, this session had me gripped from the get go. No gimmicks, just great advice, and a range of techniques which can help bring even the most technical of briefs to life.
So, in the spirit of sharing, I’ve put together my top five learnings for kicking your creativity up a notch.
1) Exit the building
With the best will in the world, a boardroom is a boardroom. As our brilliant trainer, Anahita from Now Go Create, put it, even the slides and scooters of Google quickly become wallpaper when you see them every day. With this in mind, it pays to get out of the office and find inspiration elsewhere. New environments stimulate the mind and give rise to fresh ideas – not to mention providing a likely much-needed change of scene for bleary eyed creatives.
2) Open your mind
As a hardened cynic, the phrase ‘open your mind’ is generally a bit of a red flag for me. But actually, opening your mind doesn’t always mean kumbaya and vision quests, it can be as simple as changing up your thought process to include techniques which you’ve previously dismissed. For example, as part of our training we were asked to imagine how a random public figure would approach our brief – in my case, WWQVD (what would Queen Victoria do)? Despite my initial scepticism, this was surprisingly effective – by opening my mind to a new tactic, I found a strategy which I will definitely be including in future brainstorms.
3) Fresh faces
At Bright, like most agencies, we work in account teams. These are put together according to experience and skills, and they work brilliantly. However, as part of our training, we were put in groups with people we don’t work with on a day-to-day basis, and it yielded some really fantastic ideas. Realistically, if you speak to the same team for every campaign, you’re going to start circling back to the same concepts. By bringing a new face into the mix, you might find a completely new angle, which could take your campaign in an unexpected, and exciting, direction.
4) Inspiration is everywhere
What does a toy unicorn have to do with an air compressor? Literally nothing. But can it help spark creative thought for an air compressor campaign? Absolutely. Throughout the day, we were forced to draw connections between completely random items and our set brief – and it worked. One of the crucial elements of creative thinking is rewiring entrenched mental pathways, and by overriding those standard patterns of thoughts, you can find new sources of inspiration from even the most disparate stimulus.
5) Flex your muscles
As, with everything, practise makes perfect. If you keep falling back on tried and tested ideas, never pushing the boundaries of your creative process, you’ll lose the knack of imaginative thinking. In fairness, there may not always be a new campaign with which you can exercise your creative muscle, but there are ways of thinking experimentally about anything. Break the rules – refuse to follow the set format just because ‘that’s the way things are done’. Nobody said creativity is the exclusive preserve of big-wow campaigns, you can bring it into every piece of copy, social plan, even email, you put together, and it can be the difference between being a good PR, and a great one.