Creativity: How Not to Achieve It

Do you consider yourself creative? Are you one to turn to when a fresh idea is needed? Or do you typically look to someone else for these thoughts?

I recently came across Dean Rieck’s “8 Bad Habits that Crush your Creativity and Stifle your Success” and found it quite interesting. His blog, Copyblogger, offer tips on various subjects for writers and entrepreneurs about how to increase their branding, traffic and subscribers. This post specifically targeted the main reasons why people are scared to be creative. This struck me because as PR professionals, we are REQUIRED to be creative in all aspects!

This post also tied into our reading from last week about the importance of creativity and brainstorming throughout the stages of campaign planning.

So what were his eight bad habits that hinder creativity?

1.      Creating and evaluating at the same time

2.      The expert syndrome

3.      Fear of failure

4.      Fear of ambiguity

5.      Lack of confidence

6.      Discouragement from other people

7.      Being overwhelmed by information

8.      Being trapped by false limits

Of these eight habits, I believe PR practitioners, especially those entering the profession, are hindered most by numbers two and three.

Rieck describes “The Expert Syndrome” as people trying to follow exactly what the gurus of the profession did to become successful. He points out that, “It’s wise to listen, but unwise to follow without question.” I thought this was interesting because a person cannot be creative if he or she does not try their own ways of discovering new ideas. If the same routine is used over and over (as the gurus did it), how can fresh ideas and perspective ever be brought to the table? It is key to listen to what others have suggested in order to be successful, but it is never frowned upon to try something in your own way.

Secondly, many people, even outside of PR, are afraid of failure. The feeling of someone rejecting your ideas is never encouraging. Once ideas are pushed out the window, you are prone to feel like future ideas may never be considered. According to the post, by taking more chances, you’ll  succeed more often. Therefore, the more ideas you come up with, the less your mistakes are remembered.

Our industry is surrounded by the demand for creativity. Although many agencies have a creative department, that doesn’t mean we should be boring when designing media kits, reaching out to the public, or even in every day press releases. Generating ideas means creating more success. So don’t be afraid to think outside the box!

So what do you think? How does creativity play a role in PR? Do you agree that these two points are most often seen in PR professionals, or do you have a different opinion?

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6 Responses to Creativity: How Not to Achieve It

  1. shuscher says:

    I think this post brings up fantastic points. Creativity plays a huge part in public relations, especially lately. For instance, everyone knows that social media has become a staple in our field. However, this falls into the expert syndrome. Just because a social media campaign works for one client doesn’t mean it works for another.

    For example, at one of my internships, I had to monitor Facebook accounts for every client. One client, a dog collar maker, found fantastic success on Facebook because I was easily able to target animal lovers. One of the other clients, however, was an air conditioning company, and it was difficult to get fans. Although Facebook worked for one client, I don’t think it was appropriate for the other.

    With technological advances, public relations practitioners have new and innovative tactics popping up all the time. It’s up to us to use them as necessary, not just because everyone else is on the bandwagon. Like the post says, we can’t be afraid to be innovative and take the road less traveled, because that’s how leaders in the field are made.

  2. srmccab1 says:

    I absolutely believe that it is essential for PR professionals to be creative. And to be honest, I think that it is more important than ever before. As the use of Internet as a medium continues to rise among PR professionals, more and more information will live on the Internet, creating an overload of information. Without creativity to make your information stand out, it will be lost in the massive amounts of stuff. Something must strike the reader/target audience as different, clever or off-the-wall in order to generate attention. This is where our creativity as PR professionals comes into play. Without it, nothing we produce will even be glanced at, defeating the entire purpose of creating it in the first place.

  3. jweishar says:

    I’m glad you posted this, because I sometimes feel like I struggle with creativity. I think creativity plays a role in PR because a plan for one client is completely different than a plan for another, and a good practitioner should be able to use their creative skills to tailor an efficient plan that meets each client’s needs.

    I agree that “The Expert Syndrome” and fear of failure have major roles in stifling creativity. It’s easy to go off of what someone else has successfully implemented instead of coming up with your own ideas; I feel like it’s a little bit of a comfort factor. Unless you like to take risks, you’re probably at least a little afraid of failing. PR professionals want to make their clients happy — it’s their job. I think that fear of failure comes from the idea that the unsuccessful plan will be hung over their head for future projects. The truth is, mistakes need to happen sometimes so that you know what works and what doesn’t. Like you said, the more ideas you come up with, the less your mistakes are remembered.

  4. cbaumgar says:

    I agree with all of your observations. The social media example is an excellent and timely example. Facebook and Twitter may work for certain clients but be quite unsuccessful for others. “The Expert Syndrome” most likely affects all of us at one point or another. We just have to continue to find ways to express creativity.

  5. jjmock says:

    I think the fear of failure is one of the main reasons people hold back their creativity. I think it is necessary for people to look past the failure and what could be accomplished if their idea works out. Trying innovative ways of doing something does not always work out, but when it does it separates you from everyone else.

  6. sbfogel says:

    I think that Dean Rieck comes up with some points that hold extremely true for public relations professionals. This eight-point list perfectly describes how both industry amateurs and professionals can be hindered in their creative efforts. I think Number 8 (being trapped by false limits) is the most interesting of all the reasons because it holds so true in the marketing world. Due to predecessors and old school PR professionals who have “set the bar,” young public relations practitioners go into the field thinking they must create within the confined limits set for them by their bosses/mentors/whoever. This couldn’t be further from the truth, in my opinion. It is our job as the new generation of promoters to utilize new trends and ideas to heighten our creative efforts.

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