Count on Marketing PR for Creativity

You count on your PR team to deliver your key messages. Give them a shot at coming up with a creative, out-of-the-box idea that wows your customers or solves a vexing business problem.Count on your marketing PR team for creativity, not just hod-carrying your key messages.

An article titled "The Creativity Crisis" in the spring edition of the Public Relations Strategist urges company managers and clients to lean more heavily on PR professionals for fresh ideas. Authors Douglas McKinley and Susan Balcom Walton, both professors at Brigham Young University, say part of the problem is that many top-level officials fail to recognize that PR is a creative discipline.

"Actually, PR people are — and must be — more creative than people in advertising and marketing because we have to persuade the media and others of the merits of our ideas to secure their participation in communicating messages to our target audiences," explains Patrice Tanaka, co-chair and creative director for New York-based CRT Tanaka.

It seems PR-talk about strategies, tactics and vehicles lacks the razzle-dazzle of a good advertising reel. But skill at handling the basic blocking and tackling of PR doesn't mean a lack of imagination in play-calling. Given the opportunity, PR professionals can be as creative as their advertising peers. Their approach to problem-solving can extend to addressing vexing business problems.

In fact, the whole emerging discipline of marketing PR is based on leveraging creative concepts into customer-winning, attention-grabbing strategies. Here are just a few of the more creative outlets PR pros pursue:

Websites – offering more than a flashy intro with reliable, useful content that attracts return clicks. Content-rich websites drive reputation and offer a broad platform for a diverse array of digital communications. For examples, see the websites our team created for Alameda Floral, Nature’s Needs and Olympic fencer Mariel Zagunis.

Infographics – clever visual displays of key information about a topic. In an economical amount of space, an infographic can convey a large amount of information or marshal arguments to support a key point

Contests – from mac-and-cheese recipes to the most inspirational picture, contests engage people. Engagement can result in increased brand awareness and loyalty or a continuing dialogue on an important issue.

Events – from meet-ups to sample ice cream to garage "seminars" on how to repair motorbikes, events generate interest and excitement. Participating in an event makes people feel closer to products and ideas, which can lead to greater brand loyalty.

Special Products – What could be a better way to commemorate a special anniversary than a limited-edition product? A specially brewed beer, a biography or a photo essay are ways to put a unique touch on a memorable occasion.

Guerilla Marketing – Doing something unusual can be an effective way to gain attention. It could involve 1,000 actors dressed like Colonel Sanders handing out chicken nuggets on the streets of New York or an orchestra doing a flash mob performance in a public square.

Maybe there is no better place to see PR creativity at work than in social media. Pages light up because of content ranging from the deeply informative to the hilariously offbeat. Content can take the form of videos — a distinct online voice and a point of view intended to generate dialogue. Check out the Facebook page CFM manages for client Happy Campers Gluten Free.

Reliance on solid research is another difference between marketing PR professionals and their advertising counterparts. As their description suggests, marketing PR pros make choices about outreach strategy, tactics and vehicles based on credible research, not hunches or insight. Research informs decisions about what techniques will reach your intended audience and which won't.

Because marketing PR practitioners don't typically sell a particular product, like advertising does, they recommend a mix of approaches with the best promise of a response from a target audience. Their creativity zeroes in on how to engage an audience, not just entertain them.

For highlights of our creative work, visit our Newsroom