PR and creativity

PR campaignsThere’s been a lot of chat about whether PR needs to get more creative, after another ‘disappointing’ year at Cannes. Is PR as creative as advertising? I think it depends on your definition of creative, and whether your focus is to change, manage or build a reputation, or to win an award.

Creative ideas aren’t always the ones that are going to make the most interesting video award entries. Sometimes creativity is about finding an interesting angle on a dry subject. Or discovering interesting content and writing great copy. Or finding new ways to start conversations with new customers, or new markets.

Creativity has to be relevant and thoughtful. And it must be judged on hard results (not, as in more than one of the PR Cannes awards I saw, number of media impressions and equivalent value of earned media. The Coke entry – which does list uplift in sales as part of its results – talks about the number of ‘pieces of PR’ generated).

There are some great (and creative) PR campaigns around, and some of these are in the Cannes award list. But it seems to me that perception still seems to be that PR is about impressions and media value. A creative PR campaign shouldn’t be judged on how many‘pieces of PR’ it gets, but on how it affected behaviour change (see the ‘Rivers of Light’ campaign that won Silver at Cannes) , reputation shift or long-term impact on lead generation and sales.

Not AVEs, puhlease.

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