By Parekhit Bhattacherjee, PGDPC – XIII
The importance of creativity in public relations (PR) cannot be underestimated and creativity is a part and parcel of all aspects in PR. The Public Relations (PR) is an industry is supposedly staffed by creative people producing creative PR programs. What are the various methods by which PR practitioners can better manage creativity in their PR process. It is with these notions in mind that Mr. Parekhit Bhattacharjee conducted his research on the Role of creativity in PR.
For better analysis, Mr. Bhattacharjee carried out the research in three different levels.
Phase 1(Water) – IIn the first phase Mr. Bhattacharjee attempted to define the meaning of creativity, its different connotations and the various factors attached to it. He also analyze an overview of advertising and PR.
Method used in Phase 1- Secondary Research through the internet.
Phase 2(Land) – In the second phase attempts were made to analyze the importance of creativity in PR and advertising. He also researched on how important is creativity in various steps of a campaign in both the fields.
Method used in Phase2– Secondary research through books and movies based on PR.
Phase 3(Sky) – IIn the third phase Mr. Bhattacharjee studied the role creativity plays in PR from views and discussions of PR professionals and students. In this phase he also tried to highlight the fact that creativity is not given its due importance in PR.
Method to be used in Phase 3– Primary Research through ‘focused group discussions’. The focused group discussion were carried out to understand the topic better and evaluate what people feel, about the need of creativity in the field of Public Relations.
Creativity in advertising Vs PR(Sky)
Findings: The most important revelation was that advertising showcases creativity in the best possible manner wherein in the context of PR, creativity is hidden. Creativity in PR in most agencies is limited to the campaign thought process only, while things like the creative writing for press releases, creative media pitches is often ignored to choose the same old formatted transcripts. Another point which came out of the discussion was the fact that most PR practitioners do not risk assessing creative ideas and do as told by the client. New techniques and concepts like Online PR, Virtual events, Web 2.0, CSR etc. have made PR the most sought after communication tool today. The only thing which has kept the market afloat in times of Global Financial Recession has been the work of Public relation’s crisis management.
The primary research revealed several interesting facts. Some highlights are as follows:
How important is creativity in PR? How has PR evolved in the last 4-5 years, where do you see it in the future?
Findings: Majority of the respondents have agreed that creativity is a very important part of PR. In today’s competitive world, a PR agency cannot just provide a successful campaign by using the ordinary methods of Media Releases, Press Releases, Conferences and Events. But it has become more and more important to be creative and do it in ways inorder to excite the attention of target groups but stake holders as well. According to one of my respondent, Creativity can be the extension or establishment of organisational or brand values or breathe new life and sustainability into longer-term PR programmes. Public Relation has come a long way in the past 4-5 years. PR has influenced the marketing, advertising and communication strategies more than ever.
On whether creativity is given its due importance in PR.
Findings: The study revelaed that although PR practitioners agreed that creativity is an important phenomenon but very few of them used it extensively. Creativity is mostly used to design an overall campaign but in case of the different stages, creativity is almost hard to be seen in press releases, media pitches, and innovative publicities.
Here are what a few of the PR professionals had to say about importance of creativity in PR:
“Sometimes I feel that you don’t get enough time to be creative as you get bogged down with the day to day….says one.
“I am too busy to give enough time to really think about creativity… I would like to have more time to review creativity…… says another PR practitioner.
One respondent made an interesting point saying, “Often the person being creative is not credited with the idea further down the line…. This raises an interesting point. It is rare that ideas are solely the product of a single person.
Often an idea requires a ‘champion’ to endorse it, and others become involved in its development. It is important however that credit and reward is given where due to encourage creativity. If no recognition is made or a supervisor takes the credit for the idea, it acts as a great disincentive to be creative. In this case, creativity is the victim of poor management.
Discuss the most creative PR campaign done by your agency/company?
Findings: The following discussion point help realize that there have been few Indian PR campaigns which has used creativity not just in the campaign strategy stage but also in all the stages of PR. Campaigns like the Scullers design, launch of Whisper Ultra thin sanitary pads, National Geographic Channels mastermind show are to name just a few.These campaigns have been special and successful as they were innovative and noticeable Creativity is that ‘x-factor’ which can make a PR programme sparkle.
Mr. Bhattacharya quoted Mr. Nikhil Dey, Managing Partner, Genesis B-M here on an important constituent of great creativity in PR. According to Mr. Nikhil Dey, “though creativity is a very important factor but it must closely be associated with measurability as well. If a creative PR campaign does not measure success than there is no place for such a creative campaign, how much ever creative the campaign might have been. Creativity is acknowledged after all only when it helps to increase the brand value and ultimately the sales of the product it has been campaigning on.
Would you ride the campaign in any other way today?
Findings: According to the research, creative ideas are rarely the product of a terrific flash of inspiration. How often does a person claim to have a “Eureka!” moment? Creative ideas are built from a series of smaller steps, states Poonam a high profile PR Professional.
This discussion point led to most of the professionals stating that today a campaign can be rode in various innovative ways. One of them stated that one of the best ways to introduce a campaign today is through online PR- a virtual world wherein Public Relations and publicities has a much faster impact. Moreover Web 2.0 – another important virtual world has contributed a lot to exercising faster public feedbacks through Public Relations (communities like facebook, orkut, linked in form a part of Web 2.0). Unique photo opportunities and events are another few tools to ride a PR campaign today.
When asked, at which stages in PR is creativity possible, impactful, relevant & necessary?
Findings: When the question, in what stages of PR is creativity possible, relevant and necessary; the discussion helped analyze the fact that the area of tactics has been the most popular area where creativity was used. According to the practitioners, creativity has been used in the area of tactics and implementation and also extensively in the areas of messages and strategy. But creativity is very rarely used in the publics and resources. If the discussion points are taken into consideration and accepted as a chronological PR process – starting with analysis and objectives and ending with evaluation and review – a significant pattern emerges. Generally speaking, creativity is used at the start and foundations of a programme. It is utilized heavily during the mid-point of a programme – during the messages and strategy and peaking at the area of tactics. Its use then tails off towards the end of a programme.
PR agencies in the future would require separate creative departments as in the advertising agencies:-
Findings: This discussion point raised out the same feeling almost unanimously. Most of the respondents replied to this point by stating that it won’t be long when, creativity would take over as the corporate value of their organization. The practitioners also discussed a point that like R & D helps to develop and create a better product in the Pharmaceutical and technological sector, in the same way a separate creative department would help to analyze, study and develop more creative tools of Public Relations which would help it create successful propositions.
The Research identified the importance of culture and environment in the management of creativity. PR workplaces should be made more conducive to creativity, to improve and nurture the creative output of the PR Practitioners as they have their own unique role to play.