'Too often average ideas are pursued because of a great pun' - 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 Charlotte Birks, director at Good Relations.

'Too often average ideas are pursued because of a great pun' - Creative Q&A

How did you get where you are now?
I landed a place on the Diffusion grad scheme when the agency was three years old. I loved my time there and learned a tonne. Diffusion worked on a transparent ‘payment by results’ model that made us all incredibly commercial, forensic about media strategy and laser-focused on results. Plus, the people were the best.

Hungry for larger agency experience, I moved to Good Relations in 2014, which is part of the VCCP Partnership. I honed my craft running big press offices - including Subway, B&Q and Royal Caribbean - and have always thrived off the buzz of new business. Playing a leading role in landing Celebrity Cruises, SodaStream and Halfords were career highlights.

So that’s experience, and hopefully, a bit of talent, covered. The other big thing we don’t talk about often enough is a privilege. I am CIS, white and straight, so haven’t faced some of the barriers that others do when it comes to getting ahead. I mention this because we all have a responsibility to make our industry and our work more inclusive - especially those who have benefited most from our privilege. One of the most rewarding parts of my role right now is working as the GR rep on VCCP’s partnership-wide ‘D&I Collective’. We’re investing in training and development, working with amazing partners, encouraging industry-access initiatives, looking at the way we create, how we recruit and importantly getting transparent about measuring diversity.

What's been your creative career highlight?
The B&Q account was a goldmine of opportunities to creatively populate culture. Our 50 Shades of Grey newsjack, where we released a spoof memo that warned staff to expect a run of duct tape and cable ties, was the idea that scooped awards, but we were at it day-in-day-out with a constant churn of brilliant, nimble press office stories.

... and lowlight?
There was one B&Q idea that never made it off the shelf... I pitched the concept of introducing a dedicated nudist hour for ‘World Naked Gardening Day’ to the client three years on the trot. They didn’t bite, but I stand by it as a cracking idea for a simple picture story.

What's your favourite campaign of the past three months (not one that you or your organisation was involved in) and why?
The ‘Nango’s’ campaign to give 50 per cent off to those taking someone over the age of 65 to Nando’s was a winner. It spoke to the importance of combating loneliness and reconnecting with loved ones, but better still, the wordplay was as strong as the insight. Too often average ideas are pursued because of a great pun.

How do you solve creative writer's block?
Play to your strengths; I’m a night owl and ideas come together better for me after 9pm.

How should PR grow its creative prowess?
Face up to the importance and the impact of diversity. Inclusion is more than an important moral and social responsibility; it also affects our craft. If all our creatives look the same, all our ideas do too.

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