57 per cent of PR practitioners do not risk assess creatives

Other leading findings:

- Half of respondents (50 per cent) stated they did not evaluate the success of the creative aspect of a campaign

- Two in five respondents (43.56 per cent) had not heard of any of the seven most famous models of creative thinking

- Almost one in five respondents (19.15 per cent) claimed to be at their most creative whist commuting

- One twelfth of respondents (8.74 per cent) were found to use brainstorming alone as a technique to achieve creativity

- The pressure of time, noise and distractions, resistance to creativity from co-workers and client's lack of openness to creativity were named as the biggest barriers to creativity at work

A report into the management of creativity in the Public Relations (PR) industry conducted by B2B and Corporate public relations consultancy Parker, Wayne & Kent has found that more than half (57.45 per cent) of PR practitioners do not risk assess creatives.

Creativity is the ‘x-factor’ which can make a PR programme sparkle, but creative ideas are being generated and enacted without proper understanding of the impact they may have.

Thoroughly risk assessing creative ideas allows practitioners to predict and plan for all possible outcomes. Once the risks are understood, the creative idea may be considered untenable.

Failing to risk assess creatives can lead to unsuccessful campaigns and inefficiency. In the worst cases it can actively damage a company’s reputation.

Risk must be understood and minimised as far as possible if PR practitioners are to deliver the value they seek to generate through their creativity.

Of the 36.17 per cent of PR’s claiming to conduct risk assessments, given methods and typical comments included:-

- Discussion with colleagues and clients (26.47 per cent);

“We test the creative on a selection of internal and external representatives. The feedback from this will contribute to the overall feasibility of the campaign and whether the creative needs to be amended.”

“Consult with relevant people and gather opinions and gut reactions.”

- Assessing the risks against an informal list of criteria (17.65 per cent)

“Only on an informal basis - idea is assessed for practicality, performance, effectiveness and success rate prior to being presented to client.”

“List the risks and grade them according to likelihood and whether they can be pre-empted.”

- Through knowledge and experience (14.71 per cent)

“I assess whether I think something will work using my experience and the experience of others in the team.”

“Evaluation against previous experience.”

- Respondents who did not conduct risk assessments (57.45 per cent) said:-

“No. All creative ideas are risky.“

“No. Should I?!!!”

Evaluate Your Creativity

Half of respondents (50 per cent) stated they did not evaluate the success of the creative aspect of a campaign.

PR practitioners should audit their creative output in an attempt to better understand creativity and how it impacts on the relative success of their campaigns. If practitioners are able to identify the degree to which a campaign’s success or failure is the result of creativity, they will be more informed and better positioned for future communications. This knowledge will benefit the client.

Creative Theory Is Overlooked

While 96 per cent of respondents agreed or agreed strongly that creativity was important to the PR process, two in five PROs (43.56 per cent) had not heard of any of the seven most famous models of creative thinking. The models relating to creativity included; The Wallas Model, Osborn’s Seven-Step Model, De Bono’s Six Hats, and The Creative Problem Solving (CPS) Model.

Stuck On Brainstorming

Brainstorming was overwhelmingly the most popular technique with 89.32 per cent of PROs frequently using brainstorming in their work. One twelfth of respondents (8.74 per cent) only used brainstorms to achieve creativity.

PR practitioners should not use brainstorms in isolation. They should learn and use as many individual and group techniques as possible to improve their creative output. While the brainstorm is a successful technique for the mass generation of ideas, it is not universally appropriate for every task and every situation.

Barriers To Creativity

Through analysis, Parker, Wayne & Kent found that the pressure of time and deadlines, noise and distractions, resistance to creativity from co-workers and clients lacking openness to creativity were named as the biggest barriers to creativity at work.

Sample responses included:

- Pressure of time and deadlines;

“Sometimes I feel that you don't get enough time to be creative as you get bogged down with the day to day...”

“I am too busy to give enough time to really think about creativity! …my time at work is dominated by reaching deadlines. I would like to have more time to review creativity.”

- noise and distractions;

“It is quite difficult to think creatively in a noisy environment.”

“It can often be a bit too noisy and busy to concentrate."

- resistance to creativity from co-workers;

“My business masters, while creative in their own field, are not especially ambitious in PR terms. They seem happy with what we come up with (and in some cases actively avoid PR), so there's not often pressure to find something terribly innovative.”

“[I] have to make a strong case for an innovative approach.”

- client's lack of openness to creativity;

“My clients are often keen to stifle creativity as much as they can. Usually comes from poor leadership at the top and a desire not to see their neck on the chopping block!”

“It varies depending on… how open to creativity our client might be etc.”

Creative Commuters

Almost one in five (19.15 per cent) respondents claimed to be at their most creative on the daily commute to and from work. This is significant as practitioners are generating their most creative ideas away from the pressures and distractions of the home or the office. Commuting appears to provide a sanctuary for free and creative thought in the working life of PR practitioners.

Other popular environments for creative thought include: at work, in formal settings such as brainstorms (12.76 per cent); at work, away from my desk (10.64 per cent); and at home in the bath (11.7 per cent).

Only one in ten PROs (9.57 per cent) said they were at their most creative at their work desks.

The report by Parker, Wayne & Kent concluded that while the PR industry seeks to trade on the creativity of its output, PR practitioners should invest more heavily in their understanding and management of creativity.

The report’s specific recommendations include:

- Training; the role of creativity and its management should be specifically taught as part of the syllabus of the CIPR’s post graduate qualifications (The CIPR Advanced Certificate in Public Relations and The CIPR Diploma in Public Relations). Likewise, in-house and consultancy training schemes should reflect the importance of creativity in the PR industry.

- Culture and Environment; Parker, Wayne & Kent’s research identified the importance of culture and environment in the management of creativity. PR workplaces should be made more conducive to creativity, to improve and nurture the creative output of PROs.

- CIPR Guides; the CIPR’s ‘Guide to creative thinking’ focuses solely on brainstorming techniques. While idea generation is important, the CIPR should provide a guide to creativity in general and the management of creativity.

- PR People; PROs have their own role to play. They should learn how to maximise their own creativity through theory and practice, and through a self-analysis of where they are most creative.

- Risk Assessment; PROs must endeavour to risk assess their creative ideas to improve their creative PR output.

The full report is available online here (pdf).


Note to editors
For more information please contact Brian or Tim by email or on 020 8342 8709.

About Parker, Wayne & Kent Ltd.:
Parker, Wayne & Kent specialises in public relations services for the business-to-business and corporate sectors. For more information, please visit: http://www.pwkpr.com.

Published on: 12:00AM on 24th October 2005