(This post is one in a series outlining my notes from a recent presentation on creativity ("10 ½ Ways To Unlock Your Creative Streak") to the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world's largest partnership of P.R. firms with more than 100 firms around the globe. The original post with all 11 points is here.)
In communications, the two most common objectives given to us by clients are 1) Generate media coverage, and 2) Generate awareness.
In other industries, you probably find you use the same objective over and over too.
The problem isn’t the objectives, it’s that they’re the wrong type of objectives. They're strategic objectives, not creative objectives.
Strategic objectives anchor the direction of a campaign or assignment. Creative objectives open up that direction to different perspectives for people to explore in brainstorming.
Also, if a brainstorm begins from the same point each time, it means people brainstorm in the same tactical direction. By starting from an alternative point-of-view – even a perceptual one – the brainstorm can go in new directions.
Re-frame your objective.
Change the objective’s viewpoint in relation to the situation by placing it in a different “frame,” such as paraphrase the objective by writing it from someone else’s perception, approach or perspective.
For example, to re-launch a pharmaceutical drug to combat the ugly but non-life-threatening yellow nail fungus, here are some variations of the "generate awareness" objective:
- Change people’s notion of what’s acceptable.
- Bring an embarrassing topic out in the open – but in a comfortable way.
- Make the product appear in a natural place in people’s lives.
- Tap into conversations people have every day.
Using #3, we began to brainstorm where finger and toe nails appear naturally in a woman’s day. We immediately jumped to manicures and pedicures. Our campaign could begin by educating nail salon employees who in turn would talk to their customers about how to alleviate the yellow nail fungus.Played out further, this idea led us to look at creating “toe trucks,” a mobile van driving around the city giving out free manicures and pedicures.
Look at the problem from a different perspective.
Ask someone entirely unrelated to the situation, product or category to help solve the problem. It might be literally: talk with experts in different environments, ask children what they’d do. It’s also a metaphorical game. Brainstorm a variety of different occupations – the stranger the better – and ask yourself how they might solve your problem.
For a crisis campaign, a client wanted us to develop some themes and icons to conceptualize a program for its P.R. counselors worldwide. We came up with a list of occupations who have or use early-warning or preventative devices.
A politician uses public polls, a chef uses a timer, a lifeguard uses flags, a conductor uses a baton, a policeman uses a speed camera, and a farmer uses a scarecrow in the fields to scare off crows.
The list of farmer devices also included the weather vane. With its distinctive shape and four directions which also spells out “NEWS”, the vane became the campaign’s new logo and theme.
All of these elements were perfect fodder for more brainstorming and idea generation.
Please check out these other posts:
What other tips or tricks have you used to look at your problem from a new perspective?
Next Slip-Up: People come to the brainstorm in the wrong mindset.