There’s a lot of rubbish talked about creativity (hopefully not here). As a term it’s a bit like ‘influencer’; everyone’s talking about it but few are doing it well. Going back to the definition of creativity, only a minority of people who bang on about it are actually being imaginative, thinking outside the box or, indeed, even really creating anything.
Creativity has become more of a buzzword of late, as PR agencies or departments try to win more work, more budget. Advertising agencies have traditionally been viewed as more creative and PR professionals want a bit of what they have – for that, read ‘money’.
Certainly PRs justifiably seek a bigger role in creating powerful, effective campaigns. And that has been the focus of PRWeek’s efforts over the past month – a celebration of the best of those campaigns (PRWeek Awards); some of the people who have achieved great things in this area over many years (Jackie Cooper); and some of the people who will no doubt do so in the future (Creative Mentoring).
If we look at the current obsession with nurturing creativity, much of this debate is sadly around how PR agencies or comms departments structure themselves. Should these organisations have a separate creative department (even a creative planning department to inform the ideas)? Or should creative teams be embedded into wider brand or client teams? Many of the agency bosses I’ve talked to over the past month are grappling with this dilemma.
There is also the ongoing question of whether PR people are more naturally ‘generalist’ than their advertising equivalents, who tend to divide into specialisms such as client-handling, planning, creative and production.
I’ve seen these debates go in cycles. It is now seven years since the Golin network restructured around its G4 concept, which was similar to the silo model of traditional advertising. Many firms have resisted this, preferring to have a flatter model, employing broad-based senior consultants who are more holistic in output. Some have a matrix of generalists who then call in divisional specialists on demand. Ultimately it depends on the type of sector one works in, the sort of organisation one is serving.
What matters more, however, is attracting and retaining people who are imaginative and make things. What matters most is the tangible output of whatever enterprise you are responsible for, even if that’s just yourself.
Creativity – let’s say it again – is about creating things of value, creating things that inspire. Self-inspiration can be a good starting point.
Danny Rogers is editor-in-chief of PRWeek