How PR pros can break out of a creative rut

The public relations workaday world can seem repetitive and monotonous, but great communicators find ways to reinvent themselves. Here are ideas for reinvigorating your career.


Many PR tasks are the same for each campaign we work on. There are certain deliverables or approaches we adopt again and again—and that can work just fine.

Yet, do PR pros run the risk of being on autopilot? Too many times, you preform as task a certain way because it’s always been done it that way.

It’s good to remember that different situations call for different solutions. So how can you train yourself to think outside the box?

1. Always think it through—even if you’ve done it 100 times.

Do you honestly always think through what you’re doing?

The brain has two modes of thinking, according to change leadership consultant Gustavo Razzetti in an article for Psychology Today piece.

“’System 1’ is an automatic, fast, and unconscious way of thinking—it’s our autopilot. This system is autonomous and efficient, though deceiving too. It’s more prone to bias and repetitive errors,” Razzetti says. “’System 2’ is slow, conscious, and effortful—it requires attention and energy. It’s more reliable and can filter the misjudgments of System 1.”

Because the brain is lazy, it naturally leans toward System 1. To break out of that mode, you have to train your minds to avoid going on autopilot.

“Every time you compose a press release or plan an event like a press conference, first decide what it is you want to accomplish,” says PR pro Dave Pidgeon. “Then take it a step further. Decide what it is you’re trying to persuade the audience to do. Avoid autopilot. Think it through.”

2. Ask for another opinion.

Do you always ask for someone else’s take on your plans? Or do you move forward without seeking input, perhaps fearing that this will further complicate your work?

If you don’t ask for input, you’re doomed to fall victim to the limits of your own ideas. Ask for your colleagues’ thoughts on what you’re proposing. This helps ensure you’re not missing anything.

3. Bounce ideas around.

Sometimes it can help to hold a quick brainstorming session to come up with new ideas.

You know you’ve written many press releases and perhaps followed the same “formula” to reach out to media and so on, but maybe there are other tactics you can try to get the word out. It’s possible your colleagues have tried something that worked for them. Perhaps it will work for you, too.

Maybe you want to try a new tactic but aren’t confident in putting it out there. If you can bounce the idea off someone, you can get a better feel for whether or not it might work. They can also help point out potential holes in your plans.

4. Look to others for inspiration.

Look around to see what other brands are doing to get their message out. If you don’t keep an eye on what the latest approaches are, you risk lacking creativity.

Take time to do research on what other companies are trying and see what kind of results they’re getting. Keep in mind, however, that what works for one organization might not work for all.

“Every best practice promises to be the best,” writes marketer, speaker and author Jay Acunzo in his @Medium piece. “But do we create our very best work? Not without adding the missing variables of our own unique context. Because in reality, that’s what a best practice is: a formula with some missing variables.”

Look at what others are doing, then add your unique spin on that practice.

So, the next time you’re presented with a project, step back to think what you might do to change things up. What might make more sense or achieve better results than what you’d usually do?

Take time to evaluate each client and situation and make your best recommendation based on the scenario.

How are you working to infuse your work with fresh thinking, PR Daily readers?

Michelle Garrett is a PR consultant and writer at Garrett Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @PRisUs or connect with her on LinkedIn. A version of this article originally appeared on Muck Rack, a service that enables you to find journalists to pitch, build media lists, get press alerts and create coverage reports with social media data.

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One Response to “How PR pros can break out of a creative rut”

    Jillian Bontjes says:

    As a college student studying public relations, I really enjoyed the points you brought up in this post. I liked the emphasis on working with others not only to check your work but to brainstorm and get ideas. I feel like so many people don’t like to admit when they need help brainstorming and instead just use stale ideas. This article brings a lot of insight into my future career, and I plan to use the tips you wrote here when I’m in the workplace.

    Michelle Garrett says:

    Thanks so much, Jillian! I’m so glad to hear it was helpful! You’re right that some pros are reluctant to say they need a little help coming up with creative ideas. It’s OK to admit that and turn to your team or even a trusted colleague to brainstorm some fresh approaches.

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