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Don't Gamble on Your Creativity
Assess your creative campaigns before they play.
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 by Tim Lines
Parker, Wayne & Kent

Tim LinesA report into the management of creativity within the public relations industry has found that more than half of PR practitioners do not risk assess creatives -- which can lead to unsuccessful, wasteful campaigns and inefficiency that can seriously damage a company's reputation.
The findings, compiled by London public relations consultancy Parker, Wayne & Kent, show that creative ideas are being generated and enacted blindly, without proper understanding of their long-term impact.

PR practitioners should audit creative output on a regular basis to fully understand how it impacts on the relative success of their campaigns.
Thorough risk assessment provides a platform to predict and plan for all possible outcomes. Once the risks are understood, the idea may in fact be considered untenable -- saving a considerable amount of time and money in the process.
A substantial 96 percent of PR professionals responding to a questionnaire agreed that creativity was important to the PR process. However, in an industry driven by creative output, approximately half (50 percent) stated that they did not evaluate the success of the creative aspect of a PR campaign.

Two in five (43.56 percent) had not even heard of any of the seven most famous models of creative thinking. These include; The Wallas Model, Osborn's Seven-Step Model, De Bono's Six Hats, and The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Model.

A basic brainstorm was found to be the most popular technique to achieve creativity in a workplace environment, 89.32 percent of PR practitioners frequently using it in their work. One twelfth (8.74 percent) used only brainstorms and nothing else -- going no further in their quest for creativity.
As the in-depth research findings show, it is not advisable to use basic brainstorm sessions in isolation. Creative ideas are very rarely the product of a sudden flash of 'Eureka!' inspiration. They are built from a series of smaller steps and PR practitioners should combine as many complimentary techniques as possible to improve creative output.

Through analysis, Parker, Wayne & Kent found that time constraints, deadline pressures, high noise levels, and resistance to creativity from co-workers and clients were named as the biggest creative barriers for PR practitioners.

Almost one in five (19.15 percent) respondents claimed to be at their most creative on the daily commute to and from work and not when in an office environment with fellow employees. Other popular environments for creative thought include: at work, in formal settings such as brainstorms (12.76 percent); at work, away from my desk (10.64 percent); and at home in the bath (11.7 percent).

Just one in ten (9.57 percent) said they were at their most creative at their work desks. This observation is significant, as practitioners clearly feel that they reach their 'creative peak' away from the relative pressures of home and office.
While PR practitioners must learn how to maximize their own creativity through theory, practice, and a self-analysis of where they are most creative, it is equally important to develop a culture and environment conducive to creativity in the first instance.

The industry seeks to trade on the creativity of its output, and PR practitioners must invest more heavily in their understanding and management if they are to reach their creative potential.
The full report is available at: 

Tim Lines has been a public relations consultant at Parker, Wayne & Kent 
for three years, working for Internet measurement company Epitiro, 
online games maker Advergamer, ISPA UK (the UK's leading 
Internet trade association), and The UK Internet Industry Awards.

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