Encouraging Creativity

By Posted in - Counselors Academy & Raleigh PR Agency on July 25th, 2016

This article originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of PRSA’s Tactics. You can read it online here.

Changing It Up to Encourage Creativity

Dana Phelps Hughens

“The definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting a different outcome.” – Albert Einstein

For the past several months, this column has been focused on the changes our industry is facing. This month we are changing it up to highlight ways to do things differently in order to achieve greater results.

Last year, I shared a photograph of four women that was taken in the early 1900s with our team at Clairemont Communications. Each team member was asked to write a story about the photo, and the stories were shared on our blog as part of a contest. The author of the story that had the most votes won a prize.

This was Clairemont’s first Creative Challenge. Part professional development and part team building, this exercise tapped into our imaginations with a creative writing exercise far different than that of say, writing a client news release. However, the brainstorming and story mapping were a similar process to many things we do for our clients. Additionally, social media influence was put to the test as team members solicited their professional and personal networks for votes – another task related to we do for clients daily.

Earlier this year we challenged ourselves to step out of our comfort zones when we decided to take a non-traditional approach to thanking our clients by producing what we called our gratitude video. In addition to our team singing the words to Andy Grammer’s “Good to Be Alive,” our clients danced along with us to celebrate our accomplishments together. Check it out on our Facebook page!

Not only do our clients embrace our creative and sometimes wacky ways, they rely on us for fresh ideas for pitches, promotional campaigns and special events. Otherwise, it would prove difficult to produce results month after month and year after year.

We recently met with a prospect seeking to change agencies after an engagement that had spanned nearly two decades. He didn’t seem particularly dissatisfied with the existing PR firm and yet not fully satisfied either. Upon further discussion, it was revealed that the only real issue with the incumbent was that it had been around long enough to learn all the things that didn’t work.

Wow. I never want to be that agency leader who says, “We already tried that” or “Just do it the same way, and it will be good enough.” We all know it is easy to get stuck in a rut. We’ve all been there, and help is on the way.

This year we are opening the Counselors Academy conference with “Think Differently: The Biggest Barrier to Innovation Is Our Own Expertise,” an interactive keynote with Duncan Wardle, vice president of Disney’s Creative Inc.

Duncan works with his team across all Disney corporate divisions as creative ideation consultants. They design engaging, collaborative ideation forums that capture unlikely connections and lead to new thinking and revolutionary ideas. During his Counselors Academy session, he will explore the myths around creativity and innovation, provide tangible innovation tools and help us get out of our own “Rivers of Expertise” to think differently.

To be part of this session and exchange ideas on creativity with other PR agency leaders, join us May 1 to 3, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. More information can be found at caprsa.com and on Facebook in The Official Counselors Academy Facebook Group.

Dana Phelps Hughens is CEO of Clairemont Communications based in Raleigh, N.C. She serves as an assembly delegate for the North Carolina chapter of PRSA and on the board of Counselors Academy. Dana is known as @blah2voila on Instagram and Twitter.

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