The powerful comms combo between strategy and creativity

The powerful comms combo between strategy and creativity

Charlotte Stoel

Charlotte Stoel

This summer, there have been two instances where I have been in a privileged position that has hammered home how impactful PR can be. I am a judge for the PR Week awards this year and read many entries of our industry’s finest work. And I was also at this year’s PRCA International Summit, moderating a panel and hearing from our peers at a global level.

Something came up in both these situations that was an important reminder for me - strategic thinking combined with a good dose of creativity has tremendous impact!

It’s an easy thing to forget when ploughing through the day-to-day task list, but as communicators, we are in a unique position to have a significant impact on our clients’ reputation.  

As communications professionals, we are supporting an organisation’s goals and objectives through our work, and that requires us to be strategic in how we do this. If we don’t create impact, we’re just making noise, and so what’s the point!

We are constantly absorbing the news, tracking trending topics and have a good feel for public appetite for certain stories. Having this contextual awareness enables us to get the timing and positioning of our communication right. We know what the conversations are, when it is right to wade in or when it is right to add a new perspective.

At the same time, we’re creatives. We may not get the same recognition as those working in advertising, but our work requires creativity in a world where so many have something to say.

We know and are regularly reminded that facts are boring, and people seek entertainment. You only have to see how far and wide misinformation goes when it feels scandalous, or extreme, versus how far something goes when it’s sensible and correct. Internet bots fuel misinformation, with generative AI not helping matters, meaning creative cut-through couldn’t be more important these days.

Strategy needs creativity and creativity needs strategy

You can have a very strategic communication campaign and you can also have a very creative campaign, but for true success you need to marry both.

During the PR Week award deliberations, there was much discussion amongst the judges on commending very creative work especially when it felt original and fresh. However, the judges and I would often track back to the organisation’s objectives and whether this very creative and fun campaign actually achieved the desired outcome. If it didn’t, it was hard to justify giving it a higher score than an entry that did hit the objectives.

Likewise, creativity came up in many sessions during the PRCA International Summit. Diversity leads to more creativity, generative AI still needs human creativity, young talent bring huge amounts of creativity and keeps them inspired. Creativity, however, is something that is cultivated and has widespread impact on our work, our people and our industry. But for us to have creativity that inspires, it must tie to a strategy that hits a bigger objective than just ‘standing out’.

Strategic thinking and creative ideas are not mutually exclusive and aren’t we lucky as PR experts to bring both together. It’s a powerful combination.   

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