Pilot Light

Inferno is a PR consultancy. This is not. This is Inferno’s blog.

You will respect my creativi-teh

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yeah yeah

Interesting post and response on TWL about PR and creativity. Ben Schmark (is that pronounced ‘Benchmark’ I wondered aloud – and then ‘does he? and against who or what?’…) says that PR is not creative (or at least not as creative as adland), and that technology companies are not creative (to paraphrase / potentially purposefully misinterpret for my own ends) – well that’s us buggered then!

Got me thinking, what exactly IS creativity? Is it defined solely by the ability to come up with impactful TV adverts, or glossy magazine ads that create and define a brand? Is there still a place for the written word? Of course there is.

The written word continues to carry more weight than images of good looking people or CGI-ed effects telling the world how great a product or service is.

Even in a world of blogs, communities and TV – you don’t go onto YouTube to make decisions about what you are going to buy next. You read other people’s reviews on amazon, on tripadvisor, or any number of other consumer-based opinion sites. You still read a newspaper and flick past the ads, just as you now record on PVRs and fast forward through the breaks.

In this world, PR is surely *more* relevant, and its ability to get creative *more* important. As always, though, PR needs to remain *subtly* creative and I think here we have the difference.

That wasn’t actually the point of this post, a bit of a side alley actually… er, anyway, yes the point was – what *is* creativity? I mean, why do ad people and agencies have the god-given right to define and dictate what being creative actually is? Is it because they have ‘Creative Directors’ and creative divisions? Just because you insitutionalise creativity within your industry surely does not give you sole rights to being creative.

I did a quick web search on ‘definitions of creativity’ and this is the first one that popped up:

“the ability to solve problems that are worth solving. It is the ability to create knowledge. Creativity is subject-specific: it is the meta-knowledge of how to solve a specific class of problems”

This put me in mind of a recent report from the Work Foundation, which discussed the need for the UK to put more focus on its ‘creative’ industries and how we needed to develop these into the equivalent of the UK’s current position in the financial world. The thing that grabbed me about the report was not so much the need, nor the contribution which these industries already make to the UK economy. It was the fact that the Work Foundation listed, as one of its 13 creative industries, ‘software and computer services’. How could that be? Surely the computing industry is just full of geeks and scientists? How can it possibly be creative??

Well that depends very much on your definition of creativity doesn’t it?

Look at the definition above again. Does technology “solve problems that are worth solving”? Well, yes, a lot of the time it does. Does it “create knowledge”? Well, it might not create it per se, but it does provide a great platform upon which people are able to create knowledge through sharing ideas, experiences and opinions.

And from there – is doing PR for technology companies creative? Well, it’s “subject-specific.” You have to work with quite often very dry (even dull!) subject matter, you have imposed parameters like budgets (which are significantly less than your average ad campaign) and you have to convince an audience that is allowed to interpret whatever you put to them in their own way, and with their own expert knowledge (ie the media), rather than just plonk it in front of whoever your target may be. Does that require creativity, or simply understanding? And what is creativity if it is not backed up by an innate understanding of what you are talking about and the audience you are trying to reach?

PR people are *required* to develop an innate understanding of their clients, because we have to *talk* to audiences whose own job is to sort through the crap and present *their* audiences with reliable and interesting information. Coming up with a great idea, a nice concept, a wonderful visual representation is simply not enough. I reckon getting a great idea through so many filters and barriers is definitely a “problem worth solving”.

Grant

 

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Written by pilotlight

18/07/2007 at 2:58 pm

Posted in marketing, PR

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