BRIGHTON — While creativity is critical in the PR world, agencies must understand the value that creative specialists bring to their business, particularly when it comes to shaping ideas or deciding whether to let them go.
“You do need people to look after that space, to nurture the ideas and not be distracted by the day-to-day clients, people who have more dedicated headspace to fight for the ideas,” said Stuart Yeardsley, 3 Monkeys Zeno’s executive creative director. "But we can’t lock out others from contributing to the creativity.”
Yeardsley’s remarks were part of a panel discussion on born creatives — the new generation of young people who enter PR as creative specialists — at PRovoke Media and ICCO's first hybrid event, Cannes Condensed in Brighton. MSL creative Kim Allain (pictured), Mischief creative director Greg Double and Grayling creative Alice McRoe also participated in the panel, moderated by PRovoke Media’s Maja Pawinska Sims.
When it comes to staffing born creatives, participants agreed there are benefits for PR operations. Double said: “The pros are obvious – you get more bravery when you have younger people coming through. They’ve been video editing their whole life, and you’ve got new perspectives."
And McRoe - herself a born creative – added: “Just being able to think differently can be a benefit, but having a balance of support and collaboration and integration with strong account teams can make a formidable team.”
“Our role isn’t just to come up with ideas, it’s to inspire creativity throughout the agency."
Allain, another born creative, underlined the intrinsic creativity of Gen X: “Meme culture says to us all that there are people working in retail or elsewhere who don’t know about our industry but have that insight, creativity, humour and design that are better than some PR campaigns we put out. But you do also need training in how PR lives and breathes, so when you go to the client with an idea we can make sure it’s not a flash in the pan and has strategy around it.”
The downside of hiring born creatives? “You just don’t know if it’s going to work or not,” Double said.
“I think you’d be kidding yourself if you think you can throw a bunch of young creatives into a room and say, you have a brief,” he said. "Being told to fuck off by a journalist is some of the best training you can have. They might not immediately get that newsworthiness piece."
All of which, panelists said, point to the importance of training and collaboration as a means of leveraging the best of talents’ expertise without pigeonholing them. That includes harnessing the best of born creatives’ abilities, while giving them the tools to use them in the most constructive way for jobs at hand.
“Creativity is having loads of different pieces of information that you can string into a good idea,” Allain said.
Creatives also have responsibilities, Yeardsley said: “It’s a responsibility for creatives to be champions, to be coaches, to be mentors,” including encouraging cross-fertilisation. "That is having people who are great at a craft but also having a culture where you could have ideas from anywhere, and the people from creative can make those ideas brilliant.”