'The thought that we’re all creative does a disservice' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, solving creative writer's block, and more. Today we speak to Rachel 'Rom' O’Malley, senior creative at FleishmanHillard UK.

'The thought that we’re all creative does a disservice' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?

I took a scenic route – here’s an edited version...

I spent much longer at university than was necessary for someone who didn’t want to be an academic. After that, and despite having planned to work in PR, I took a bit of a detour. In no particular order (that’s a lie, it’s in order) I worked in: a literary agency; medical college; membership organisation for authors; mining town in Western Australia; PR agency where I caught the creative bug; and (plot twist) a digital marketing agency before landing at FleishmanHillard. In the latter three jobs I always angled towards creative roles, and I got lucky in that I had mentors or managers that supported me – FleishmanHillard was so supportive, I’m writing this because I’m officially a senior creative.

I guess if there’s a moral to the story it’s that it doesn’t hurt to try different things, and when you find a team that supports your ambitions stick with them.

What's been your creative career highlight?

The day I got the phone call to say I was moving into the senior creative role. I’m still waiting for someone to pop up and announce it’s all an elaborate joke.

... and lowlight?

I was project manager on a high-profile campaign to send a phone into space and it – ahem – quite literally crash landed. In someone’s garden. And they put it straight on social media. And called their local news outlets.

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation were involved in) and why?

I loved Let’s Talk the Joy of Later Life Sex, so much so I’ve been politely asked by my team to stop talking about it. I have a massive soft spot for campaigns that challenge conventions, and this is done in such a joyful, visual way I completely fell in love with it. Good to know there’s more to retirement than Werther’s Originals and hip replacements.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

I get something, anything, down on paper. It doesn’t matter how abstract or uninspiring I think it is, the hardest part is starting and once that’s out of the way the rest flows.

Failing that have a shower. Not something that was easy to do in the office but in these halcyon days of WFH I’ve found the science behind having your best ideas there is true.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

It’s already started as there’s more investment in dedicated creative roles but in my early days they were niche, and the collective thought was ‘we’re all creative’, which is a disservice to the work and the range of personalities needed to deliver it. Not everyone is driven by creative, just like not everyone is driven by process, so it’s brilliant we’re acknowledging that and allowing for earlier specialisms. It’s also incredibly hard when you’re running accounts to find space to research and think in order to get to a great idea. Hopefully dedicated creatives will help alleviate some of that pressure and result in even better campaigns.

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