'Solving creative writer's block is like finding your keys' - Creative Q&A

PRWeek grills creative comms figures on how they got where they are, their career highlight, and more. Today we speak to Oli Miller, associate creative director at Pangolin.

'Solving creative writer's block is like finding your keys' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?

Out of university, I started working in an accounting department. The people were really nice and the work was mentally taxing, but with no creative outlet, I couldn’t stand it.

I left and started working in film and TV before joining the TVC Group (where I spent nearly a decade) and worked in its production department. I moved into PR client services but ensured (occasionally helpfully) that I played as close a role in content production as I could (scripting, shot lists, and treatments – essentially getting in the real producer’s way).

After leaving TVC, I joined The Romans, where I learned a great deal and had a great time, with the unexpected fringe benefit of frequently visiting Speyside – which brings me up to now.

Two years ago, I joined the ridiculously talented and attractive team at Pangolin. I joined as a senior account director but after not very long David and Will (founders, listed in alphabetical order to avoid favouritism) offered me the opportunity to turn my habit of offering unsolicited creative input on every project into my actual role.

What's been your creative career highlight?

I’m lucky enough to say there have been a few, but I’d always find it hard to see past the last one. So with that in mind, it would have to be the Redbreast Whiskey Project Wingman Bird Feeder. Redbreast tasked us with bringing its work with common birds, via the charity Birdlife, and its whiskey together. The eventual creative was a simple one: food scarcity for common birds is an increasing issue, so let’s feed them. A metal casing would be added to bottles that would double up as a bird feeder you wouldn’t mind having outside your window. A lot of hard work from other people later led to superb results and awards.

...and lowlight?

Haha. There have been a few of those too. But on a personal level, arguably the time I had to stand next to the chiselled physique of Olympian Mark Foster to help bring some creative photos to life. We were both in Speedos; that’s where the comparisons would so rightly end.

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

It’s Music Magpie’s Mount Recyclemore. It just ticks so many boxes. A serious message, communicated in a creative way. A relevant calendar hook, which leads to an engaging picture story. A consumer touchpoint that ties back to the brand. Seamless.

How do you solve creative writer's block?

I think this is a popular answer, but just walk away from it. It’s like finding your keys – they always turn up when you stop looking.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?

So many answers to this question, but the most pressing is diversity, which is, of course, critical. How can you come up with new, bold and exciting ideas if everyone’s experience is the same? We need the broadest spectrum of people to drive that, and PR’s track record of championing diversity is underwhelming.

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