21 December 2020|Latest Posts, Marketing, PR, Promotion, Psychology
By Judith O’Leary, founder and managing director of PR and digital comms agency, Represent Comms. If you look at the majority of job specs for roles in PR and marketing, you’ll see creativity listed as one of the desired character traits. And that’s no surprise – creativity wins pitches, it gives you the edge over the competition, it wins awards and it can make all the difference between an average campaign and a viral one.
While some certainly possess a more naturally creative flair, creativity is a mindset above everything else and in my experience, it is something you can instil within your team by adapting your working environment and encouraging curiosity. It requires an investment on your part as the business leader, but given that creativity is so fundamental to employee morale, productivity and quality of work delivered, I see it as a fundamental part of my role.
Here are a few ways you can help colleagues spark creativity:
Read, watch and follow
Encourage your team to read case studies, to follow smart and creative people on social media and to read the newspapers daily and share best practice with each other. The Cannes Lions Awards website is a great resource that offers a whole host of great content from previous winners. Often the best ideas are not just plucked from mid-air, they are based on a pre-existing campaign that can be adapted to a different sector or market.
Be curious, about everything
Curiosity breeds creativity. Encourage your team to always ask what could make a campaign better and examine things from difference perspectives. American inventor Henry Ford once said “If I had asked them what they wanted; they would have said faster horses.” He was so curious about what other forms of transportation existed beyond horse and carts, it made him one of the world’s most famous inventors.
Work with creative suppliers
Surround yourself with creative suppliers, freelancers, consultants and industry experts. Providing your team with access to others can bring a fresh eye to any project, helping to drive new ideas and concepts as a result.
Be aware of your surroundings
You can’t expect your team to come up with a genius idea whilst sitting at the same desk, staring at the same computer, day in day out. Encourage employees to take regular breaks and get some fresh air before coming to any brainstorms. Even better than that, make the whole meeting outside. I always find my best ideas come when I am not thinking about coming up with an idea! And this concept applies to both in person and remote meetings. In fact, at a time when we are all largely working from home, encouraging your employees to get regular bouts of fresh air is absolutely crucial.
Companies including Google and Facebook have introduced ‘scheduled free time’ in order to promote and drive creativity, which has allegedly resulted in the creation of things like Gmail and Google Earth. While for the majority of us, giving our employees unlimited free time is not a realistic option, the principle can still be applied. Introducing a flexible workplace policy where employees can work remotely and adopt the hours that work for them can really drive that creative flair.
Being scared of getting it wrong is one sure way of stifling creativity. An all-inclusive, any ideas welcome approach is really important when it comes to coming up with new ideas or different ways of doing something. Let your team experiment and try new things. If an idea doesn’t fly, it may spark others. If an idea falls flat on its face, what better way to learn and adapt for next time. Your team is much more likely to inspire creativity and thrive in an environment that not only accepts failure, but welcomes it.
Creativity is undoubtedly one of the most important character traits we look for in the PR and marketing profession. However, it is all too often assumed that you either have it or you don’t. This is just not the case. By making changes to your workplace policy, adapting your physical working environment, embracing a culture of failure, working with creative suppliers and encouraging your team to be curious in everything they do, you can help instil a creative mindset. And as a result, you’ll start generating award-winning campaigns and out smarting the competition.
About the Author:
Judith is founder and managing director of Edinburgh-based PR & digital marketing agency, Represent Comms. She has over 20 years’ experience working with businesses to build their profile, manage their reputations and generate leads. Recently awarded Creative Industries Leader of the Year, Judith is well known for living and breathing her clients’ businesses and her enviable contact list is testimony to the reputation she has built during her career to date.
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