Even as persistent overuse and empty application conspire to rob it of all meaning, the transformative impact of genuine business creativity has never been more important. It is the difference between cutting-edge campaigns and humdrum marketing, between genuine innovation and copycat mediocrity. In short, it is the not-so-secret ingredient behind every great public relations and marketing initiative.
Three years ago the ‘Holmes Report’ and ‘Now Go Create’, set out to explore whether the public relations industry is truly creative enough to meet the demands of the 21st century. Our findings have demonstrated a significant gap between rhetoric and reality, between an industry that often talks about creativity, but has found it difficult to ensure that it is paying more than lip service to the notion.
Encouragingly, the “Creativity in PR” study conducted in 2015, suggests that things are changing fast. The findings indicate that creativity is increasingly viewed as a central element in organisational culture, rather than being viewed solely in terms of creative output. More resources are being devoted to creativity. Creative confidence is high.
And clients are more likely than ever, to approach PR agencies for big brand-building ideas. These demands are clear across the board, with many of those polled noting that, consumer brands typically place the highest priority on creativity.
What drives great work?
There are great case studies which validate that creative ideas are more effective; Volvo Trucks ‘Epic Split’ campaign winning the Grand Prix for Effectiveness at the Cannes Lions or Always #LikeAGirl – the most awarded PR campaign of the year – driving measurable sales results for P&G.
And when it comes to what drives great work, content and integrated ideas emerge as two of the key areas where the PR industry needs to step up its game. While there is considerable flux where client demand for creativity is concerned, some themes are clear-specifically a demand for better creativity as it applies to content (19%), integrated ideas (17%), insight/planning (16%), and storytelling (15%).
Storytelling (83.5%) continues to rate as the biggest influence on creative PR work, but there are sizeable gains made by brand transparency (53%) and visual communication (52%), compared to last year. Social good (49%) also emerges as a major influence, even as digital-fuelled trends such as wearable tech, apparently decline in importance.
Storytelling (71%) also retains its top position as a driver of great PR work, ahead of insight/planning (57%), emotional resonance (47%), and content creation (38%). There are notable increases for purpose (21%) and results (14%).
Investment concerns & talent challenges yet not everything is rosy in the garden of PR creativity. Concerns still linger. Techniques for generating and evaluating creative ideas remain work in progress and, perhaps most importantly, the creative talent challenge continues to rank as the thorniest of all.
Respondents were also asked to compare the quality of creativity in the PR industry with other disciplines. Interestingly, clients appear bullish – more than 30% think PR industry creativity is better than advertising agencies, with similarly positive results also recorded against digital, media, experiential and content agencies.
Budget remains the biggest barrier to creativity in PR, ahead of client feedback or risk aversion. Meanwhile, when asked for three things that would help them become more creative, respondents again pointed to ‘improved use of insight’, which rises from 33% to 40% this year. Almost as important is the ‘ability to take more risks’ (38%). ‘More budget’ and ‘educate clients’ take equal third place, while clearer client briefs are also important.
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