One of the things I love about working in PR is the creative energy. The new approaches, cool ideas and interesting stories that colleagues bring to meetings or to the water cooler are what make this business so exciting.
Sometimes though, you experience a bit of a drought. Everyone at the office is a little quieter and it seems like people are just going through the motions. The stories pitched appear tired and the proposed angles boring. Everything is just a little – blah.
Creative funks can happen for a number of reasons. Here are just a few, paired with some suggestions to snap out of them.
(1) Stuck in the routine. Sometimes the daily grind gets to us. Somewhere during the process of strategize, research, pitch, write, post, monitor, repeat, people get caught up and forget that they need to venture outside the content producing machine to find new ideas, and more importantly, to keep their sanity.
Snap out of it: organize outings or activities to get people out of the office. Whether it’s for a walk or to grab a coffee, sometimes we just need a little distraction to get the creative juices flowing.
(2) Old school PR environment. Not everyone in PR works at a Fortune 500 company or a forward-thinking agency. A lot of content teams work for non-profits, government departments and industries that have not yet caught up with best practices in content marketing. Your team members may find that they have new ideas, but the context, budget or resources won’t allow these to come to fruition.
Snap out of it: Though you can’t change your organizational culture overnight, you can try to find projects that will give your team a creative outlet. Challenge them to find alternative ways of covering usual topics or formatting their pieces. Give them opportunities to research and pitch new ideas to senior management.
(3) Lack of team work. Although we work in an extremely collaborative field, we all have those times where we isolate ourselves and forget to use one of our most valuable resources – our colleagues. We think we are being more productive, when in reality we are spinning our wheels.
Snap out of it: Plan for structured brainstorming sessions where people bring forth what they are working on. Share ideas on content, angles, formats, photos etc. and encourage discussion. Make sure all team members have the opportunity to participate and that these creative sessions don’t turn into administrative discussions.
(4) Bad content. There is nothing content marketers hate more than producing puff pieces that we know no one will look at and that will yield poor results. Often though, internal politics force us to produce this type of content. Writing boring corporate-speak articles will make any creative feel like they are losing their edge.
Snap out of it: Find the hidden story. It may be difficult, but many times you can uncover something interesting about the corporate retreat, CSR report, or pancake breakfast. Encourage your employees to talk to different people involved and find an angle that will add some substance to a corporate announcement.
(5) Results fall short. When we put a lot of effort into a story or project and it doesn’t yield the expected results, our motivation can take a hit. We begin to doubt to ourselves and this has a negative impact our creativity.
Snap out of it: The essential takeaway here is that everyone goes through this. Sometimes it hits us a little harder and affects our creative mojo. Help your team members get to the other side by productively using their ‘doubt’. Look at what did not work and why. Map out an alternative plan.
(6) Too much or not enough competition. We’ve all heard it before: moderate competition in the workplace is healthy. However, it’s not always easy to achieve a balance. Some of us work on teams where there is a great deal of ‘die-hard’ competition. This type of environment can be toxic. On the other end of the spectrum is a lack of friendly competition, which can cause complacency.
Snap out of it: Fostering friendly competition by encouraging people to aim high will yield better results and keep people motivated. Make sure your employees know that their individual work is vital to your organization’s success by helping them set goals. Nurture a collaborative culture by showing how each individual’s contribution and their combined efforts will lead to the best results. Make sure to celebrate the victories along the way!
Creativity is such a crucial part of what we do. Let’s make sure we take the time to nurture it! What does your team do to foster creativity?