The PR profession has entered a new golden age of insight-driven creativity, leaving behind the days of creativity for its own sake, no matter how brilliantly expressed.
A driving force has been clients articulating objectives and benchmarks more clearly than before, in turn raising agencies’ accountability and requiring a more, thoughtful approach to campaign development. I’m seeing firsthand evidence of consistently razor-sharp, research-grounded creative – the kind that drives real outcomes – through our agency’s own experience and that of others.
There was a time when consumer PR firms were fortunate to get their hands on brand-commissioned or syndicated research early enough to matter in the planning cycle. Those days are receding deep into the rearview mirror, and with it, the scramble to leverage already-developed thinking and tactics, or graft on elements with breakthrough potential.
That doesn’t mean that creative, driven more by research than gut feel, has to be dry as toast. To the contrary. Solid insights empower smart risk taking. Data, as well as social listening, illuminating Greek yogurt consumers’ likes and dislikes helped 360PR client Stonyfield to boldly invite those consumers to #Cheatongreek – by trying a new Stonyfield product.
To be sure, agencies have been active participants in the insights-driven movement. Our firm was founded on an audience-centric approach that requires a constant flow of fresh insights to deliver on our promise. We made a decision to invest at a relatively early stage in research and analytics expertise and marketing intelligence tools, and to build in intelligence from our own consumer panel. There is no doubt that these investments raised our smart creative game.
The digital revolution has played a big role, too, with agencies getting and earning new license to showcase their creativity on a daily basis in highly tangible ways, not just episodically during a pitch or at certain campaign moments.
The deftly produced text, images, and video that engage and move consumers to action on social channels showcase how creatively effective PR firms can be once handed the keys, day in and day out. With that has come agencies’ entrenchment in brands’ braintrusts as more exception than rule, and with that, the regular sharing of information that makes us even more effective partners.
We all know that spine-tingling feeling that comes with the big idea. It feels even better knowing that idea emerged from fundamental truths, with power to make a real and lasting mark on our clients’ businesses.