If you look at the majority of job specs for roles in PR and marketing, you’ll see creativity listed as one of the desired character traits. And that’s no surprise – creativity wins pitches, it gives you the edge over the competition, it wins awards and it can make all the difference between an average campaign and a viral one.
While some naturally possess a more creative flair, creativity is a mindset above everything else and in my experience it is something you can instill in your team. Here’s how:
1. Read, watch and follow.
Encourage your team to read case studies, to follow smart and creative people on social media and to read the newspapers daily and share best practice with each other. The Cannes Lions Awards website is a great resource that offers a whole host of great content from previous winners.
Often the best ideas are not just plucked from mid-air. They are based on a pre-existing campaign that can be adapted to a different sector or market.
2. Be curious about everything.
Curiosity breeds creativity. Encourage your team to always ask what could make a campaign better and examine things from difference perspectives. American inventor Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked them what they wanted; they would have said faster horses.” His curiosity about other modes of transportation made him one of the world’s most famous inventors.
3. Work with creative suppliers.
Surround yourself with creative suppliers, freelancers, consultants and industry experts. Providing your team with access to others can bring a fresh eye to any project, helping to drive new ideas and concepts as a result.
4. Be aware of your surroundings.
You can’t expect your team to come up with a genius idea while sitting at the same desk, staring at the same computer, day in day out. Encourage employees to take regular breaks and get some fresh air before coming to any brainstorm session. Even better than that, take the whole meeting outside.
5. Promote flexibility.
Companies including Google and Facebook have introduced “scheduled free time” in order to promote and drive creativity, which has reportedly resulted in the creation of things like Gmail and Google Earth. For the majority of us, giving our employees unlimited free time is simply not an option, but the principle can still be applied. Introducing a flexible workplace policy where employees can work remotely and adopt the hours that work for them can really drive that creative flair.
Creativity is undoubtedly one of the most important character traits we look for in the PR and marketing profession. However, it is all too often assumed that you either have it or you don’t, which is just not the case.
By making changes to your workplace environment, working with creative suppliers and encouraging your team to be curious in everything they do, you can help instill a creative mindset and start generating award winning campaigns and out smarting the competition in the process.
Judith O’Leary is the founder and managing director of PR and digital comms agency Represent.