It’s something that has happened to almost every public relations professional.
You have an amazing pitch idea. You place yourself in front of the computer preparing to craft an influential masterpiece. However, instead of drafting the perfect pitch, you end up staring at a blank document for what feels like an eternity. After cursing your computer and the gods of writing, you retire from your desk and begin working on a different assignment. Then, at the most inopportune moment, you have a creative epiphany and find yourself racing back to the computer.
Creativity does not answer at your beck and call. It can occur at random and originate from anything, such as nature and friends. Creativity can’t be forced; however, remaining creative in your personal life can help you be more consistently creative in the workplace.
“My personal view is that there is some benefit to practicing, that is, flexing your creative muscles in various ways,” said Dr. Thomas Ward, a professor of psychology at The University of Alabama.
Creativity is a very broad topic that can be hard to describe succinctly. However, most scholars attempt to define creativity as something that solves a problem while at the same time being novel, said Dr. Glenn Griffin, an advertising professor at UA.
In a world filled with distracted citizens, creativity is becoming increasingly important. In order to catch a public’s attention for more than five seconds, you must create something engagingly different.
For PR practitioners, creativity is a necessity. Andrea Palea (2010) in “Creativity in Public Relations” stated that “as the public relations field spreads, it forces practitioners to be more original, to look for new perspectives and to prove their creativity.”
Mike Little, an instructor in UA’s Department of Advertising and Public Relations, agrees. He noted that it’s important for PR practitioners to nurture the creative process in their personal life because their job continues outside the office.
There are many ways to perpetuate the creative process. One of the best ways for a PR practitioner is to write.
Having creativity in one’s writing is paramount for the public relations professional. According to Palea, “every text is proof of the writer’s enthusiasm for the client they represent, and a PR practitioner constantly has to invent new ways to phrase the client’s key messages.”
Bill Todd, the chief operating officer for o2ideas in Birmingham, Ala., noted that writing is the most important creative endeavor for a PR practitioner.
“Early on, young PR people should make it a point to sharpen their writing,” Todd said.
A good way to stay creative with your writing is to start a blog. Take something you’re passionate about and start typing. Just remember to make sure you write clearly and efficiently so that it is able to be understood by everyone.
Along with writing, you should be willing to have new experiences. Seeing the world from multiple views is tantamount to any creative field. Cultural experiences allow you to gain insight into different perspectives, and new creative activities allow you to visualize various approaches to a task.
“If you try different forms of creativity, you’re exposing yourself not just to different cultures but to different knowledge domains,” Ward said. “It may be that there are things from those knowledge domains that are relevant.”
You must constantly force yourself to experience things that you wouldn’t normally be interested in, Griffin stated. “This reminds your brain not to get settled, and not to get stagnant,” he said.
Enriching yourself musically can help stimulate your brain, as well. According to Nathalie Robinson, Cindy Bell and Lenore Pogonowski (2011), “music exists as a way for expressing knowledge and understanding of one’s experiences and feelings, for developing a personal perspective of one’s place in the world and sharing that through sound.”
Todd mentioned that he played guitar and keyboard to help him remain creative.
“I use that to sort of take mental excursions away from other things I do, and let another side of myself communicate,” Todd said. “I try to live a balanced life that allows creativity to come from as many different creative sources as possible.”
Maintaining creativity doesn’t have to be a lonesome endeavor. You can be creative in a social environment by playing games with friends.
Little mentioned that it’s important to play games like Pictionary and Taboo because they cause one to think. “Whenever you’re thinking, you’re making more and more connections,” Little said.
Whether it’s through writing, experiencing, expressing oneself musically or playing a game with a friend, it’s important to keep creativity in one’s personal life. Having personal creative endeavors can help one be consistently creative inside the workplace.
“I think it becomes sort of an osmosis where you begin to pick up things subliminally in one area of your life, and it almost subconsciously makes its way into another part of your life.,” Todd said. “It’s that sort of fabric of life that keeps creativity going. If we did just one thing all the time we’d quickly stifle creativity.”
Palea, A. (2010). “Creativity in Public Relations.” PCTS Proceedings (Professional Communication & Translation Studies), 3(1/2), 19-24.
Robinson, N. G., Bell, C. L., & Pogonowski, L. (2011). “The Creative Music Strategy.” Music Educators Journal, 97(3), 50-55. doi:10.1177/0027432110395945