Carefully Crafted on December 14

4 Ways to Spark Creativity in PR

PR pros are often encouraged to think outside the box, but that doesn’t mean creative ideas just come pouring out of our brains all the time. So, what happens when you get stuck?

Last month, I spoke at PRSA International / PRSSA National Conference about creative PR. During both panels, questions came up about what PR pros can do to get creative juices flowing. Here are four of my go-to tricks:

Walking meetings. Remember that old “This is your brain/This is your brain on drugs” commercial from the 80s? Well, this research/scan from University of Illinois shows the contrast between your brain activity after sitting quietly vs. taking a 20-minute walk … and the implications are much more positive. Walking stimulates your brain, allowing you to think of new and different ideas that may not come to you while you’re sitting. In fact, walking has been proven to increase creative output by 60%, on average. So, the next time you need a burst of creativity, take a walk!

Gamestorming. Inspired by my good friend Amy Taylor, “gamestorming” is an exercise my team and I use when we need to come up with a bunch of different creative ideas (and quickly). Here’s how it works:

  1. Each person participating starts with a blank sheet of paper and has two minutes to begin writing out a concept or idea (e.g., an event, a piece of content, etc.). When two minutes are up, pass your paper to the person on your right.
  2. Read the idea that was handed to you, and then spend one minute building off of it. For example, if someone came up with an event concept, is there a creative way you could entice media to attend? Could you add a layer of social sharing or crowdsourcing to a content marketing concept? Or, if the idea you read inspires another, don’t hesitate to jot that one down either.
  3. Continue passing papers and building off each other’s concepts until you have a handful of fully fleshed out ideas. We typically go through four or five rounds, keeping each one to a minute or two.
  4. Read each paper aloud to the group in case they spark additional thoughts.

We do this exercise fairly often and have come away with some super creative (and comprehensive!) ideas. Bonus points: The whole process only takes 15-20 minutes.

Design your day. If you’ve read this blog before, you know I’m a big believer in working when and where you’re most productive. My team and I regularly work from coffee shops, happy hours, our home offices (read: dining rooms) … anywhere and everywhere that we can log a few hours of high-quality, uninterrupted work that might be hard to produce in the office.

Sometimes, a change in scenery can provide a spark of inspiration. Identify where you come up with your best/most outside-the-box ideas, and then design your day around working there.

TED talks. Anyone who has attended a TED/TEDx event is familiar with that “I’m-ready-to-take-on-the-world feeling” you get while you’re listening to the day’s speakers (and, if you’re like me, that feeling will stick with you for a while after you leave).

Apply that same mentality to PR. Bookmark TED’s Kickstart Your Creativity and The Creative Spark playlists for the next time you need a brain boost. Between the two, you’ll get access to 11 TED talks that offer “the kick in the pants you need to unleash your creative spirit.”

How else do you spark creativity? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!


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