Like strategy, creativity is a much abused word in the communications business. With huge award ceremonies like the recently concluded Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity at play, can creativity in PR in India move beyond mere lip service?
Well, some of the larger agencies in the country are trying to weave creativity into the genes of PR professionals and institutionalise the processes of creativity.
Edelman India and the creative newsroom
A year ago, Edelman India, in keeping with its global focus on innovation, appointed Ashutosh Munshi as the first Director of creative, planning and content. The aim was to create a multi-disciplinary team, the Edelman creative team under Ashutosh consists of 15 people that look at campaigns from a creative angle.
Ashutosh Munshi, Director of creative, planning and content (Edelman India) and Head of consumer practice (Edelman SAMEA) say’s: “We have established an experienced team that includes strategic planners, ethnographers and researchers who deliver solid insights-based counsel. This is brought to life by a team consisting of an art director, designers, illustrators and copywriters.”
Ashutosh’s mandate is to link creativity with business impact, “This team of specialist’s work in close partnership with the client engagement teams to deliver fresh thinking around big creative concepts, media-agnostic ideas and strategy that leads to actual business outcomes.”
Ashutosh says that as a result Edelman is being approached with business that has traditionally never been part of a PR firm’s mandate. “This includes exciting brand campaigns, creative ideation, product launches, films, design (from point of sale to web apps) and much more.”
In order to institutionalise the process of creativity, Edelman plans to build a creative newsroom as an offering to clients that provides real time content to keep customers engaged.
The explosion of user generated content and social media means that companies like Edelman believe that in the new democratised environment, brands are relevant only if they have something unique and consistent to say every day.
Ashutosh points out that, “In order to succeed you have to be the most interesting brand in someone’s newsfeed. This punctuates the need for companies to become publishers of and media channels for their own content; this is an inalterable paradigm shift and a marketing need.”
This is where the creative newsroom comes in. Ashutosh says that, “The creative newsroom aligns analytics with community management to deliver real-time actionable insights based on behaviors of communities and the social conversation at large. Teaming community management with creative balance allows us to tell stories that are more compelling and more likely to break through. Analytics monitor the performance of content and these insights can be employed to drive a lift in engagement through promoted content.”
20:20 MSL and its case study week
While Edelman has taken a structured approach to harnessing creativity, 20:20 MSL has focused on experience sharing to learn. The Publicise Group Company held a case study competition earlier this year, the process of which went on for almost a quarter. 20 client servicing teams participated and there were 5 finalists including Facebook, Huawei, SITA, BenQ and Evernote. The Evernote account team took the competition seriously enough to conduct a press conference:
Amrit Ahuja, Client engagement director, MSL Group Asia said, “There were teams who showcased the best coverage and conversations they attained for their clients through experiential activities, that ranged from golgappa eating competitions, skipping contests, treasure hunts and golf tee-offs. The entire office was dressed up with branding that made the workplace look colourful and alive.”
Facebook branding during the case study week
Amrit believes that, “It’s not just about a Case Study Week; it’s about a lot of things. It’s about knowledge sharing sessions, news discussions, planned brainstorming, sharing recognition and incentives of course! We have a training organised for all our employees, every Friday morning, across all our branches, on multiple topics. Every day we get together to discuss the big news of the day. So creativity stems from all of these little and large activities.”
Genesis Burson-Marsteller goes trend spotting
Genesis Burson-Marsteller also believes in sharing case studies. A monthly newsletter called the ‘Line Up’ showcases creative work that brands across the globe are doing – this includes social, outdoor and advertising campaigns. This mailer goes out to all clients and Genesis B-M employees. Professionals are then free to consult this pool of ideas for their own campaigns.
Apart from this, Genesis B-M undertakes a yearly trend spotting exercise that generates a GBM Trends for Indian Youth knowledge property. This is a result of brainstorming sessions wherein the young associates at Genesis Burson-Marsteller provide feedback on what Generation Y thinks. Based on this, the firm identifies key trends that can be seen amongst the Indian youth.
“Our business is all about developing creative solutions to solve our clients’ problems. It isn’t enough to simply use our existing knowledge and skills for clients’ campaigns. We need to constantly layer them with insights and creativity. There are enough examples to show that using data to form better insights leads to better creative ideas”, says Deepshikha Dharmaraj, Chief Marketing & Growth Officer, Genesis B-M.
In today’s connected world the Big Idea can come from anywhere and if PR wants a greater role in the marketing communication mix, then institutionalising the processes of being creative is essential.