Finding inspiration and thinking creatively is vital when it comes to achieving success in public relations. If you aren’t feeling particularly inspired yourself, how can you possibly engage a journalist and their audience with your PR campaign? However, it isn’t always easy to feel inspired and think creatively when you’re under pressure.
One of our clients, creative entrepreneur Guy Armitage, is the founder of artist networking site Zealous and is putting on a celebration of the UK’s creative talent at the Bargehouse in London’s Southbank this month. I picked his brains to discover how he manages to stay inspired and come up with so many creative ideas every day, and my favourite suggestions are as follows:
One of the very basic ideas of being creative is making time for it. It’s immeasurable, so frustration can arise when you’re working on a deadline, but I often find myself at my most creative when I let my mind rest and wonder. Besides, an idea isn’t automatically a good one, the more time you allow yourself the better your idea will become, and the easier it will be to filter the good ones from the bad ones. “Sleeping on it” is not just an expression, it really works. Time to question is never time wasted.
Inspiration strikes at any time, be sure to have a notebook or smartphone with you everywhere. Also, put something near your bed, you never know what you’ll dream up during the night.
Everything you do in your life feeds into your creativity. If you do the same thing every day, don’t expect fresh ideas. This could be as extreme as taking a spontaneous weekend camping trip, but as simple as changing your walk to work. Anything that forces you out of your comfort zone will help towards gathering the materials that will form the premise to your imagination.
Leave your iPod at home, put that book down, and look up. The world is full of stories, scenes, tragedies and challenges. Notice them, these could form parts of your business strategy.
Like most things, ideas are greater than the sum of their parts. Sharing with a total stranger is advised, as only they will give you a valid opinion.
Was it that long ago that a stick and box could become a racing car, a rocket, a pink pony with an aversion to Brussels sprouts? Think back to your youth and embrace your inner child. Going back to memories of your past may well help you get back some of the creative magic children have in their perception of the world.
If you’re in London between the 29 November – 1 December make sure you head down to Guy’s free exhibition, ‘Zealous X’, at the Bargehouse in Southbank. The event will showcase the creativity of 100 artists, photographers, performers, musicians and filmmakers from across the UK and include talks from industry experts and fantastic events like live music and body painting.
The acknowledgement that PR professionals make great contributions to the successful running of businesses has long since been made.
Take a look around the offices of well-known institutions: of course, you’ll see the Chairman’s multi-aspect corner plot but, let the eye wander a bit further, and often you’ll encounter the Director of Communication set up, albeit in more modest fashion, next door to the boss.
The office plan is a physical manifestation of the importance of PR insight in the day to day running of a business. Before a new strategy is rolled out, the question is how should it be packaged and communicated so as to make the most impact on the chosen audience? Enter the Director of Communications. By the same token, when a business is suddenly beset by a reputational crisis, how should it be dealt with to minimise the impact on staff and the general public. Another job for the Director of Communications.
Surely it is only a matter of time before PR professionals become Chairmen as a matter of course. Their fingers are permanently on the pulse of a business and their minds in harmony with consumers; vital qualities in the success of any enterprise. On that note, it was gratifying to see John Fallon become the first PR man to take charge of a FTSE 100 company this year, when he became Chief Executive of Pearson, the learning company.
Fallon had joined Pearson as Director of Communications and rapidly become indispensable. Yet his presence at the helm of a large listed business is the exception rather than the rule currently. Research from recruitment company Robert Half found that more than half of FTSE 100 bosses had a financial background, with others emerging from engineering (14%), retail/hospitality management (10%), marketing (6%) and IT (4%).
If we fast-forward five or ten years, though, the figures may look very different. More and more companies are recognising the importance of PR in the business world and it is likely that Directors of Communication, the close allies and confidants of Chairmen, will find a direct route to the corner office and get the chance to run the show themselves.