The Creative Process: Part Four – Public Relations
We continue our series exploring the creative process across different creative industries by taking a look at the creative process involved in public relations.
But first, lets just recap which industries we have explored so far. First up in the series was a look at the creative process involved in film making. We followed that up with a look into the world of delivering content in the form of blogging. Part three saw us go back behind the camera, this time delving into the world and creative process of photography.
Today, as previously mentioned we are talking with the guys over at Fresh PR. A dynamic, multi award winning public relations agency whose success has seen them work for clients such as Megger, National Grid and ePlan. Birmingham based, they specialise in technical PR, technical copywriting and technical content marketing and quite frankly, they’re damn good at what they do.
So let’s waste no time in exploring their creative process when it comes to public relations and delivering engaging content.
Q1. When you meet with a new or existing client, what do you set to establish from the first meeting or brief and what are some of the key questions you would typically ask them?
The very first time we meet a client, whether they are familiar with PR or not, we ask them what their business goals and ambitions are. We first want to establish how they see marketing fitting in with their overall business strategy basically.
We would also ask what timeframe and budget they allocate to the project in question so as to ascertain realistic parameters for the jobs ahead. After all, no one likes to deal with projects so urgent that they need to be delivered… yesterday!
Q2. Once you have established a brief with a client, describe the process you go through with your team in understanding the brief and could you elaborate on what influences the decisions you make as a team on what will be delivered from a creative point of view? For example, do you do research into who their target audience is? Perhaps spend some time with the client to understand who they are, their identity in a sense?
As we tend to work with engineering and industrial companies, many of these have niche products and very crowded marketplaces. We start by interviewing key employees in the company and we try to fit in a factory tour if they manufacture any products. We also like to do our own research and figure out the right target audience demographic or ideal publications.
If required, we speak to trade journalists or consultants that would be able to add more to our research about the specifics of the client’s industry sector.
Q3. Once you have decided on the approach you wish to take a with a client in regards to the creative output, give us some detail on how you would typically schedule the work and whether or not you would drip feed ideas through beforehand.
We always tell customers that a rolling monthly campaign would deliver better results than one off articles or content. We suggest a few ideas and creative approaches and, if agreed by the client we then go away and schedule them throughout the year.
We meet regularly with clients to keep dialogue up and ideas flowing. This ensures that we are always up to date with what the client is doing, what the industry is focusing on and developing content ideas into actionable work.
We also keep a few spaces for media opportunities and events that may come up.
Q4. Do you draw inspiration for projects from similar creative work or from any other sources for that matter?
Our inspiration normally comes from the client’s own stories and experiences. Even if an engineer may not consider his new widget “a breakthrough” that is newsworthy for the media, we beg to differ!
Sometimes businesses are so used to their innovation that it no longer surprises them. For their target audience however, these are extremely interesting and they deserve their column inches.
Q5. How would you define a successful project?
Normally the success of a project or campaign is defined in collaboration with the client at the very beginning. But as a rule of thumb, a successful campaign will have reached its target audience, gained column inches, generated leads, positioned the client as the leader in their field and raised the profile of the company within its industry sector.
Q6. Do you feel some sense of responsibility to educate clients so to speak on what works and what doesn’t work in regards to creative output? For example, assisting the client in thinking about their target audience and providing real life examples of why a specific piece of work did or didn’t resonate with the audience?
It is always important to manage expectations and to gently guide the client through the creative process. This is why after looking at the brief we discuss the best course of action and educate the client about what is achievable, desirable and also within budget!
Q7. What’s your favourite part of the creative process and why?
I’m all about the strategy behind campaigns – the researching of industries and target audiences and aligning them with business goals. I know Oana particularly enjoys coming up with campaign messages and drafting article abstracts – she can really let her imagination run wild! Keith loves learning about new innovations and technologies that clients are developing – he is an engineer at heart. And Gail loves a well run engine – making sure everything is on track and organising both the Fresh team and the clients.
Q8. How do you overcome creative blocks when inspiration or suitable ideas just aren’t happening?
Creative block?! What’s that?
Q9. Working with a dynamic team, how do you decide on which member or members of the team will work on specific projects?
We all work on a client campaign but we fulfill different roles. If it is a technical article we’re tasked with, I normally assign Keith, our electrical engineer on the job. If it is a creative piece I will let Oana lead; and if it’s an event, there’s no better person to organise it then our in-house client manager, Gail!
Q10. What advice would you give to anyone looking to make a career in line with what you specialise in?
The most important thing when doing engineering marketing and PR is a general thirst for knowledge. If you are genuinely curious, all the complicated technologies will become easier to understand and you will be able to tell the client’s story in an articulate and compelling manner. That keeps the client happy and the journalist alike!
Originally we were planning on just four articles, but due to the popularity of the series we have decided to extend it – to seven articles. So, tomorrow we’ll be exploring the creative process involved for a West End choreographer, involved in some of London’s most critically acclaimed shows.