5 ways to unlock the creative kid inside every PR professional
In an industry so heavily reliant upon creativity, it never ceases to amaze how complacent professionals can become when seeking inspiration for creative public relations campaigns.
Endless brainstorms conducted in the same, familiar spaces will simply refuse to stir the creative juices in new, stimulating ways.
PR needs to change the picture, physically, as often as possible. Because familiarity, in a creative sense, is often the biggest hurdle to inspiration.
It strikes me that, as PR professionals, we sometimes become victims of our own maturity. But how do we overcome that obstacle – we’re grown-ups after all? We simply need to find a way to tap into our inner child, that creative kid who lives inside us all, who once-upon-a-time dreamed up fantastic worlds in mundane back gardens and turned simple sticks into a light sabres to fight off dastardly dustbin soldiers from the evil galactic alliance.
Don’t fear failure. Kids are so creative because they are unafraid to be incredible. Being ‘incredible’ is the polar opposite of credible. So forget about credibility for a moment. Stop being so grown up. Act your shoe size instead of your age.
So next time you’re seeking inspiration but finding only a high-walled garden of ennui, try some of these easy methods to kick-start some new-angled, young-at-heart creativity.
- Create the Right Environment
Everyone can be creative. You just need the right environment, stimulus, and support. Children are bursting with creative energy, often simply because they have not yet become frozen with the fear of criticism from others.
Google goes to great lengths to provide employees with fun perks such as beach volleyball courts and free beer, a setup that often looks very much like an adult playground. The endgame is to create an environment that lets people feel relaxed and comfortable with communicating creative, often child-like wacky, ideas. So, try and build yourself a creative, stimulating space where unusual ideas are more easily nurtured.
- The 30 Circles Test
This great creative exercise comes from acclaimed creative researcher Bob McKim, and is featured in Tim Brown’s TED talk Creativity and Play.
Draw 30 circles on a sheet of paper. Then, in just 60 seconds, adapt as many circles as you can into something else. One circle could be turned into a sun. Another could become a face, maybe a third could be a football. How many can you do in a minute?
Pretty much everyone I know has a hard time reaching 30, mostly because as adults we self-edit. Try being a kid. Children are great at exploring possibilities without the restrictive reigns of self-criticism, but adults give themselves a harder time. Don’t worry about the results – be quick and don’t be scared of what spills out. It’s a fantastic exercise for tapping into that youthful energy undimmed by the pressures of the adult world. Then do a creative session immediately afterwards. The chains, you’ll see, will be off.
- Do a Doodle & Take a Walk
Do doodles – they set off fireworks in the creative part of your brain. According to Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution, “Even if you’re just scribbling in the margins, you’re lighting up different networks in your brain and when you do that, you’re engaging different information.”
If you’re working your grey cells hard and still coming out with nothing, try pushing yourself physically for half an hour. Research shows that exercise can promote more creative thinking. One study that focused on how moderate exercise influences performance in cognitive tasks found that exercising regularly can train cerebral thinking and stimulate creativity in a healthy way.
- Change the Angle
There’s a tendency to do things by the book when trying to devise new creative ideas for a client. So, whether we like it or not, if we’ve done something similar before and it has been successful, we’re likely to re-use or re-hash those ideas.
The very nature of this immediately limits creativity. And the way to beat it is to look at the problem from a different angle.
For example: You’ve got a brief to make a new coffee machine famous, thus increasing sales. Instead of coming up with creative ideas for a coffee machine, ask yourself what you would do if the product were a children’s bike, or a range of men’s shirts – something different. It will spin new creative ideas you wouldn’t have dreamed of if you’d kept to the script.
- Be Creative Somewhere New
Change your usual environment. Get out into the big wide world and change your perspective. New surroundings stimulate new ways of thinking – and could just unlock a new idea around a familiar subject. Don’t go to the boardroom, the allocated ‘creative space’ or sit at your desk hoping to pluck gold from the office ether – change the view. Get up and take a walk around the block, go and sit in a café or park. Or simply walk the streets. Go somewhere different – somewhere that provides alternative inspiration to the norm and you’ll spark from different tangents.
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