Is creative PR taking enough risks?

The creative function of the PR industry is finally, finally, changing. A new kind of creative is emerging – ie, not that same guy again…

I briefly wondered therefore, if this definitely needed saying… but one dating site ad TikTok ban later it’s very clear that it does. If you need further convincing, search for ‘Creative Director’ on LinkedIn and have a good scroll.

We need to diversify. We need young people – real young ones, not the millennials clinging to relevance by the skin of their teeth (I include myself). Older people. Parents. Way more women. Racial, socio-economic and sexual diversity. This isn’t tokenism, this is business. How can we understand the audience we are trying to woo, if we have no idea woo they are? (Sorry.)

There are too many brainstorms for budget retailers where no one in the room has ever had to count their coppers at the till. Campaigns designed to ‘target Gen Z’ where the measure of success is still national newspaper coverage. Borrowing from other cultures, while failing to take the very basic step of involving people from that culture.

So what to do? In the short term, bringing your wider team into the process will add different perspectives. It doesn’t mean every deck becomes a democratic nightmare (heaven forbid), but just getting some insights over a coffee, a Slack thread of opinion – anything to offer more voices. Where possible, go further and bring others in; gather a focus group, discuss ideas and thoughts with relevant organisations and community leaders.

But in the longer term (not too long, it’s been long enough), we need to focus our efforts on recruiting diverse creatives – or PRs interested in becoming a creative. These roles are not a treat to be gifted to a senior PR once they’ve ‘put the miles in’. They’re jobs. If it’s a title you win after a decade in the business, then you’ve lost some of the fresh thinking we need to stop our content being banned on TikTok. How do we speak to Gen Z – or even the next lot (generation alpha, if you’re asking) – if we have no one on the inside?

Now to immediately contradict myself. It’s also true that if we’re not letting more experienced PRs ‘cross the floor’ without demonstrable proof points, we give no opportunity for them to show what they can do.

So let’s do both. It’s time to take a few risks.

Amy Jones is creative director at Hope&Glory PR

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