Tag Archives: Social

Original Ideas, Do They Grow on Trees?

7 Nov

Originality, creativity and success are attributes everybody hopes to embody at some point during their career or hobby. Within PR these qualities are very important to the development and admiration of the industry. Creativity is a key part of public relations and is exemplified in almost every piece of work produced for a client or project pitch, it is a quality that cannot be lacking in any practitioner in the field. However, creativity is different to originality, there are many debates surrounding the issue of originality. You can be creative in different ways but being original is rare or non-existent in some people’s views.

Can there ever be an original idea? I believe it depends on the way you look at the idea but in a basic sense, I don’t believe there is many (if any) totally original ideas. The creativity side appears when presenting an idea to others or when it is applied to real life. Most ideas are sprung from inspiration we find in other things we have seen, heard, touched, smelt or tasted even if this inspiration or application to another thought is sub concious. Humans are social animals and like to fit into groups, so it makes sense that we pick up on ideas from others, like them and then use them in a new way ourselves even if we are mostly unaware to this copy-cat behaviour. We all take part in collective behaviour to achieve a sense of belonging and this is how our ideas develop. For example, look at the fashion design industry there are seasonal trends featuring similar colours, patterns, styles etc. which are often brought about from previous design trends:

Louise Brooks: 1927 (Left)                                    Kate Moss: 2011 (Right)

The is not much difference in the design of these coats (except one is real fur and the other is fake… hopefully!) illustrating the similarities between eras in time and peoples ideas of what’s fashionable. Celebrity’s also become leaders in idea sharing and trend setting; they are innovators of fashion or whichever sector they’re involved in but are not totally original in their ideas.

People may develop, add to and transform an idea creatively but it will never be fully original despite sometimes being appreciated as so. The ability to use the internet to find trends and inspiration means the idea of originality is even less likely and even easier to be disproved. The internet provides a basis for us to search, use and interpret other peoples ideas which we then use for ourselves either in our own private thought development or through expression to other people; producing a ripple affect of ideas. Humans feed off each others inspirations and thoughts to produce better ideas, because of this combining our knowledge and thoughts is often the best recipe for success in the PR industry. There are different techniques practitioners use to share ideas with one another and one of the most popular is the brainstorm.

From my work placement at MediaCom I learnt that generally it is best to:

* Invite as many people a long to a brainstorm in order to evoke creativity, the diversity and sharing of all thoughts should return some creative and brilliant ideas.

* There needs to be an openness and willing to listen between participants with no judgement on people’s ideas; any idea is a good idea.

* There needs to be some direction of conversation, this should be planned prior to a brainstorming session by the leader of the exercise (this is usually the person benefiting from the brainstorming activity). Direction can be formed using direct questions, images, objects of relevance, associations etc.

* Eliminate all distractions.

* Sometimes inviting a selection of different ‘thinkers’ to a brainstorm is a good decision. For example, a leader, a reasoner, a creative, an analytical etc. are all different types of people who each bring something useful to the brainstorm environment.

Sharing information is in a sense the whole objective of a PR practitioners job. Through applying brainstorming and similar idea developing exercises e.g. experience days, the quality in campaigns can grow to become extremely successful. The ideas produced may not be original in a unique sense but they can be and often are creatively actioned through the use of  the media.

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The Importance of Being Transparent

24 Oct

In an age where secrets are revealed with the use of a mobile phone camera or in the second that it takes to click a link online transparency is becoming a must have to many organisations. Our interactivity with media is increasingly being used and seen for the sharing of information; organisations and PR professionals know and realise this. From inside and outside the PR perspective it seems obvious that being honest and transparent makes for the best possible reputation a company can get.

The internet has empowered society in a way PR’s and organisations have not had to face before, the previous ways of communication were one way and message to consumer based through traditional media forms such as TV, print and radio. The internet offers a voice back to the consumers and society giving them freedom to share information they’re interested in, shocked by, entertained by etc.

The main objective for a company in relation to transparency would be to not get caught up into a scandal creating issues for the organisation. There have been many examples of non-transparent communications gone horribly wrong, e.g. Nike some years ago had information leaked about their labour and underpayment of outsourced employees, this affected them more than they thought with consumers and other stakeholders boycotting their products in the market place. One of the worst reputation crucifiers is not being open in these types of circumstances. It is not just the force of the internet putting pressure on companies to come out of hiding and be transparent; there is more reasoning behind the motivations. Organisations are realising the ethical implications of being secretive towards important stakeholders as well as realising transparency can have real economic benefits.These economic benefits come from stakeholder trust being built between organisation and consumer/employee/shareholder etc. There is proven correlation between both trust and transparency and building trust with any stakeholder acts as a loyalty partnership that can last a long time.

This all seems very good and so far appears to make a simple decision for PR professionals and their organisations; transparency is best. However there are a few questions that I have come up with whilst researching the uprising of a transparent communications industry; the main one being, it can’t be right for every company out there and every type of communications strategy… can it?

For example, what happens if you as a PR professional need to respect the fact there will be a lot of people opposing your company’s transparency in terms of work ethic and methods. There are plenty of oil conglomerates and non-environmentally friendly companies out there who would face some clear scrutiny from being totally open. These along with organisations with huge profit margins and unhealthy products would all come across limitations when adopting transparency.  Another limitation is the affect transparency may have on the element of surprise; with new product launches organisations aren’t going to want to be completely open with all the information  before the actual launch as will consumers want to keep some mystery surrounding an innovative product. Although there there are some issues with transparency in some situations it is unavoidable in the porosity of organisations today, this just presents a strong need for PR and its input into communications strategy and management of transparency for a company.

Having pointed out some excellent benefits and some concerns surrounding transparency I have come to the conclusion that it is a brilliant way to form communications and relationships between organisations and stakeholders in the modern age of communication. There are different standards of transparency suiting different types of organisations and these levels need to be respected through careful communications planning. Culture is changing and with it comes added responsibility for organisations to build trust and act fairly to all of its stakeholders; transparency certainly helps as a start to accomplish this change.