Everyone perceives advertising agencies as creative.
Forget the football game. The Super Bowl delivers three hours of programming that essentially turns into a promo for creativity in the ad biz. As Exhibit A, check out the Budweiser Puppy Love ad which has had over 54 million views and counting.
People also categorize the digital shops under creativity. They’re the guys building wacky stuff like the Office Depot dancing elves.
But communications and specifically PR seem to rate a click above email marketing on the creativity scale.
The Holmes Report is doing its part to change this perception, conducting a study on creativity in PR (in cooperation with Now Go Create and H+K Strategies).
In perhaps the most damning stat, nearly 60 percent of those on the client side characterize creativity in the PR industry as “ordinary” or worse. Not even the perky nature of PR professionals can mask the fact that 50 percent of those on the agency side think the same thing.
You can’t address the issue until you recognize the issue. This strikes me as a “Houston, we have a problem” moment.
It also begs the question, how much do clients actually care about the behavior? We’ll come back this one in a moment.
Given the nebulous nature of creativity, it’s useful to define creativity with a PR frame. The Holmes study called out three areas, content creation/marketing, integrated ideas and storytelling as the big three in PR creativity.
Obviously, content creation and storytelling are sister activities that go hand in hand. What’s revealing about the Big Three is the need to communicate these compelling stories/content through integrated vehicles that transcend conventional earned media.
As a quick side note, it’s an affirmation for our holistic approach to campaigns as explained in “The Blending of Digital Marketing and PR.”
We also know the PR profession falls short in this area.
Now, let’s drill into the “why.”
The best creativity in PR — the stuff that causes discomfort, if not fright — rarely sees the light of day in an actual campaign. Because this “zig when others zag” work only appears in the new-business process.
The Holmes Study captures the driver behind the zeal for creativity in new business. It shows that 73 percent of in-house professionals view the importance of creativity in hiring an agency as an 8, 9 or 10 (scale of 1 to 10).
In short, an agency must be creative to win new business, and often it’s the agency perceived as most creative who wins the day.
Unfortunately, the creativity in the new business process typically does not transport into execution. While there are a number of reasons this happens, it’s more revealing to highlight what doesn’t happen.
Clients don’t fire PR agencies for lack of creativity.
That’s the disconnect.
Yes, PR agencies as a collective whole still have work to do in honing their creative chops.
But if clients valued creativity as much on the execution side as they do in conducting agency reviews, it would accelerate the growth of creativity on the agency side.
No one likes being fired.
Note: This is my final post for 2014. Happy holidays to everyone!