Content and integrated ideas have emerged as two of the key areas where the PR industry need to step up their game, according to the fourth edition of the Creativity in PR study, with both clients and agencies also favouring payment models that reward ideas rather than billable hours.
The 2015 Report, co-authored by Now Go Create and conducted in conjunction withH+K Strategies, polled 500 agency and in-house respondents across 35 countries, and asked clients to list the most important areas in which PR firms need to improve their creative quality. A free PDF of the study is available below.
While there is considerable flux where client demand for creativity is concerned, some themes are clear — specifically a demand for better creativity as it applies to content (19%), integrated ideas (17%), insight/planning (16%), and storytelling (15%).
‘The balance of the results seems right and reflects my own belief that creativity is important to every part of the process; from conceiving the ideas to creating beautifully crafted content," said Claire Holden, creative director at H+K Strategies London.
"I think of it as ‘applied creativity’, in that creativity does not sit with a single person or in a single department but is part of our culture and the way we work."
Storytelling (83.5%) continues to rate as the biggest influence on creative PR work, but there are sizeable gains made by brand transparency (53%) and visual communication (52%), compared to last year. Social good (49%) also emerges as a major influence, even as digital-fuelled trends such as wearable tech apparently decline in importance.
"For us, the ability to be great visual storytellers has never been more important. The brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text," said Candace Kuss, director of social strategy at H+K Strategies London. "We all know the power of an iconic news photo to entice you in; visual storytelling for brands works in that same way. It enables us to cut through the content fog and engage our audiences in faster, more emotional ways."
Storytelling (71%) also retains its top position as a driver of great PR work, ahead of insight/planning (57%), emotional resonance (47%), and content creation (38%). There are notable increases for purpose (21%) and results (14%).
"For us everything has the start with the client’s purpose – it is the primary driver for us to create ideas that build the client’s brand, not just create spikes of awareness," says Simon Shaw, chief creative officer, H+K Center of Creative Strategy. "We would always rank insights (plus data) at the top of the list of drivers from that point on to ensure that our ideas are resonant and relevant for today. Using the right insights will make the work a balance of the rational and emotional. Content and storytelling then become the way we bring the ideas to life."
This year’s survey again addresses one of the fundamental issues that affects creativity. How exactly should agencies be reimbursed for their ideas? This question was put to both clients and agency people.
Interestingly, both agencies and clients select ‘set fees for ideas’ as their top choice, suggesting that a more innovative approach to funding would help encourage idea development and overall creativity.
Agencies, however, continue to favour billable hours (34%) far more than clients (9%). The latter group prefer ‘sales results tied to ideas’ (28%). Interestingly, there is not a huge appetite for IP/licensing of ideas.
Creativity In PR 2015 — Other key findings that are explored this week:
The tools, techniques and talent that are being used to support creativity