There has been a lot of talk lately about integration in PR. And by a lot, I mean that is all anyone talks about. Most agencies are on board by now, or at least heading in the right direction. If they are not, clients will move on to agencies that understand that social media, quality content, SEO and measurable results should be the biggest part of every PR plan. Sounds like an easy recipe for success, but keeping multitasking consumers with busy lives and short attention spans interested is not so easy. Consumers need images, videos and snappy headlines. They don’t have time to read endless paragraphs of text that could be summed up in bite-sized, shareable images, infographics and quizzes. Creative is imperative to an integrated PR plan.
Creative, or at least in-house creative, is relatively new to PR. Clients are starting to see the impact that even a little bit of creative can have on any social campaign. The success of the Oreo Blackout Tweet during the Superbowl, Kmart’s Ship My Pants viral video, and Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches have shown brands that consumers will pay attention when the ask is simple. Watch this for two minutes, share with your friends. Look at this image for three seconds, share with your friends. A creative director should be a part of every PR team, but as Vincent van Gogh taught us all…
CREATIVE TYPES CAN SOMETIMES BE TEMPERAMENTAL
Designers make things look pretty. That’s true. But our pretty pictures, websites and videos do much more. They communicate messages, they sell ideas and they reach target audiences. There are a few simple ways to work with your creative team effectively to get the best possible results for clients. These quick tips will ensure projects stay within scope and stay on budget (clients love this), and more importantly, will keep you posting BFF selfies with your creative friends.
1. DESIGN BY COMMITTEE = PROJECT FAIL
Art is subjective, and you’ll never please everyone. If you have ownership of a project, select two or three trusted colleagues to share proofs with and collect feedback from. If you share creative work with the entire company, you will get conflicting opinions from 800 well-meaning colleagues and the project will come to a screeching halt. If you can’t get consolidated feedback from your chosen group, remember that you have an expert on your team. Turn to your designer. There is solid rationale behind every decision a designer makes, and sometimes knowing why there is a line here and a dot there can help push everyone in the same direction. This is not only a great tip within the walls of a PR agency, but also good advice to give a client when passing on creative work for review.
2. MAKE IT POP
We hear it so often, but what does it really mean? A designer may think it means animate it and add some sound. You may think it means make it blue. Vague feedback will cause a project to go out of scope and over budget. Phrases like “not loving it” or “it doesn’t speak to me” don’t mean anything to a designer. What is it about the design that you don’t love? Is it the font choice, the hero image or the two-column text? You may not know what it is you don’t like. Some people just don’t think visually. Trust your creative team to know the right questions to ask. Sometimes it means finding out what it is you like before figuring out what it is you don’t. It may feel like an interrogation, but answering a few key questions will keep the design process on track and within budget.
3. GETTING PERSONAL
Everyone has particular likes and dislikes. There are people who love candy, hate bugs and barely tolerate tipping in coffee shops. When working with a creative team on a project, your likes and dislikes may not be in the best interest of your brand. If you hate purple and your company’s tagline is “All purple. All the time” you may need to put your lack of purple passion aside and go with it. Objective feedback is necessary to a collaborative design process, always keeping in mind brand personality and target audience. It is easy to get hung up on your own dislikes, but it is essential to any piece of creative to separate objective feedback from subjective feedback.
4. I GOT NOTHING
We all love our own opinions. If you don’t believe that, take a look at your Twitter feed. When it comes to giving design feedback, there is a chance your opinion may not be helpful. You may feel compelled to offer feedback when asked, but it doesn’t mean you have to. If you are saying “it could be bigger” or “maybe it should be bold” just to say something…stop, take a deep breath and remember the timeline and the budget. If you don’t have objective feedback, which will add to the success of the design, don’t give any feedback at all.
5. YOU’RE THE EXPERT
Designers hear this all time. It is true to some degree. Your creative team should be full of experts in their space, but what do they know about your brand? A collaborative design process starts with a kick-off meeting, a brief and a discussion about your goals and your target audience. There are also more technical topics to address such as existing assets, usage and future usage. If you let creative go rogue, assuming they will know what you want with no guidance or feedback, a successful project is not in your future.
Constructive feedback is imperative to a creative team when bringing a brand or social campaign to life. A collaborative effort between Creative, PR team and client is the only way to achieve success. That success may be measured in likes or shares, downloads or functionality, but a successful project, campaign or logo will lead to a happy client and, fingers crossed, a life-long partnership.