21 August 2017
You can’t imagine working without a mobile phone or computer. Yet when it comes to one of the most important skills in PR, Comms or marketing - creativity - are you more ‘Old School’ than ‘New School’? Traditional PR skills in news storytelling and media relations are now insufficient for outstanding results beyond 2016. Failing to adapt could witness you being marginalised with less influence, budgets or status. Key drivers for change are the greater convergence of communications, along with the need for greater emotional connections within any communications. Add to the mix the need to tell your story through images/ moving images, plus, the growth of Content Marketing, and recognition of public relations’ distinct skills in managing wider relationships, building social capital - all add up to massive, yet achievable opportunities for creative PR.
Most practitioners to appreciate the distinction between narrative and story, assuming that ‘story’ and ‘narrative’ are added to a reality, like a veneer of packaging. A ‘news story’ is a simple narrative within a wider context of a narrative. Creative communications is now more than just creating a series of news stories. You need to listen out for, identify, nurture and amplify the underlying narrative. Doing so puts you in the strategic driving seat of communications. In a world of greater complexity simplicity - not being simplistic - is at the heart of successful creative communications. By leveraging profound insights at a deeper, more emotional level, at the heart of your brand, creates more powerful engagement for your communications. Cannes award winners such as #AlwaysLikeAGirl are part of a growing breed of campaigns that have a brand purpose - a sense of view that provide a narrative. This creates an emotional bridge to overcome barriers put up by increasingly cynical or commercial-wary consumers.
Help however, is at hand. The Public Relations Institute of Ireland is doing something to help professionals out there cope, survive or even thrive. The Institute’s new Certificate in Creativity is being launched in September. Over a programme of four linked weekends - to avoid any downtime at work - provides new support, guidance and smartness.
Creatives now need to improve their storytelling skills by harnessing the ‘Theme’ to a story - a one, two, three word emotional bridge that connects with the target audience. LINPAC Packaging for example, moved from being a packaging supplier to delivering ‘Fresh Thinking’. You don’t just need to emotionally connect with consumers but also develop broader engagement. The ‘Pokemon Go’ craze reflected the growing trend for gamification. You don’t just communicate to, but encourage your consumers to participate with, and engage in common activity. Creative PR’s now need to greater ‘mememasters’ - creators of ‘sticky’, viral-friendly Content. Why did the Leave vote win the UK BREXIT Referendum? They had more powerful memes - messages that replicate and spread of their own volition. #Projectfear or #TakeBackControl achieved real cut-through. Responding to growing complexity the creative PR will need to be better collaborators. Partnership working in an age of growing complexity and scarcer resources is a fundamental. Creative public relations practitioner needs to evolve, away from the Brand Archetype of a ‘magician’ - a lone ranger using their creative talents to pull the metaphorical rabbit out of a hat, to the Brand Archetype of ‘Creator’, working in a more co-ordinated way with other specialists, creating powerful strategic narratives to deliver and achieve results. The lone maverick will find themselves increasingly alone. The act of collaboration itself extend through greater use of community co-creation and ‘Brand Kultura’ - content independently created by a brand’s fan community.
Creative talents has the opportunity to create a new narrative for their future: it could face a future of being marginalised, further down the pecking order. Or it could be in the strategic driving seat, directing and managing the corporate narrative and being the best story tellers around.
You are not alone in facing greater challenges on fewer resources. Improving your creative talents enables you to face a challenging future with greater confidence.
Course director Andy Green, is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations is a leading authority and author on flexible thinking, creativity, public relations, brand and personal communications. He is the author of Creativity in Public Relations (Kogan Page, 4th Edition 2010); Effective Personal Communication Skills for Public Relations (Kogan Page, 2006) and co-author of A Minute with Tony Blair. Andy lectures on the Masters programme in Global Communications at Cardiff University. He is a Brand Story expert and an associate director at four UK PR agencies, founder of social enterprise the Flexible Thinking Forum. He has also produced the CIPR Innovation & Creativity Toolkit resource for public relations practitioners.