Anyone who works in the creative industry knows how essential good ideas are. And anyone who works in the creative industry knows how challenging the search for good ideas can be. But before you face the fear of the blank page alone, read on because help is at hand. This blog post will talk you through helpful tips and reveal how we stay creative at PRfact.
Admittedly, it would be nice if you could snap your fingers and it would be there: the one, brilliant idea. But that’s wishful thinking. My everyday life, for example, provides me with inspiration for good ideas. I go through life, meet people, have exciting conversations, discover new places, expose myself to new situations, watch an exciting movie - and then I might suddenly have an idea that's worth pursuing. A thought that may have the potential to become a brilliant idea. However, there are other ways to get to good ideas than simply going through life with your eyes and ears wide open. Philipp Barth, for example, is convinced that good ideas are not a matter of luck and that anyone can have good ideas - if you follow a few guidelines. The former Creative Director and Head of Creation at Jung von Matt in Germany has written a book on this topic called "Das Buch für Ideensucher - Denkanstösse, Inspirationen und Impulse für Kreative" (engl.: The Book for Idea Seekers - Food for Thought, Inspiration and Impulses for Creatives). In this book, he share many creative techniques that can help you look for good ideas. I have picked my top 6 to share with you today.
1. The flow technique
Works like this: Relax, sit back, and pick up a pen and a piece of paper. Then write down the brief in a single sentence, and try to make a rough sketch of it. At this point, switch to autopilot and let your brain take over. The idea is to associate, daydream, play with the briefing sentence, change the words in the task, and look at the problem from different angles. Along the way, it's important to write down your thoughts in key words and sketch them out. Eventually, you should get into "state of flow". The only thing to keep in mind is that your notes must connect to the brief and not drift too far. I also love to brainstorm with relaxing background music while I create mindmaps for a brief. This allows me to concentrate well and usually get into "flow" at some point.
2. New-by-new technique
Escape the routine! This is your goal here. The first step is to observe yourself. Look at how you routinely do things. Are these good or bad habits? Not every habit is an obstacle. For example, writing a to do list in the morning before starting work or doing yoga at lunchtime are positive habits. However, according to Barth, working always following the same working pattern is not conducive to finding new ideas. We can escape these negative routines by breaking out of the cycle and deliberately doing something different. Take a different route to work, reach for a different newspaper or website. New things come about through new things.
3. The accordion technique
This is one of my favourite techniques and one that rarely lets me down. The accordion technique, says that small breaks maintain the creative flow of ideas alive – I could not agree more with that. How do we use this technique most effectively? Work in a concentrated way for a certain time, for example 45 to 60 minutes. Then take a short break of about 10 minutes and do whatever you feel like doing - whether it's having a coffee, doing some sun salutations or just getting some fresh air. Once the break is over, you can concentrate again for the next 45 to 60 minutes before taking another short break. These breaks are valuable, because they allow you to get back to work with fresh eyes and they often bring new inspiration.
4. The reporter technique
What’s the story? This technique turns you into an investigative reporter who considers all the information at hand to find the big story. This technique is based on research and learning about the subject until you feel that you know enough about it to look at it from a different angle and find the scoop.
5. The Insight technique
An obvious one but often forgotten. This technique asks us to know you we are talking to. Once you know who your audience is, you create a persona (yes, the term "persona" should be familiar to all communications and marketing specialists ;-)). What are their interests, needs and desires? Philipp Barth encourages us to find an insight that is affecting the persona and is relevant to her – this is when you find the insight and the hopefully the overlap with your client or product.
6. The Edison technique
This technique focuses on the competition. Looking for ideas that have already been used around a similar topic. How could we develop them or improve of what has already been done? What would an improvement of this existing idea look like? As Barth reminds us, this is not about this is not about stealing ideas. It's about developing them until they reach their full potential.
At PRfact we like to mix and match these techniques but we also like to use the power of our diverse team. We hold what we call "crea meetings". When we have a big pitch we bring together a people from different teams with various backgrounds to brainstorm on a specific brief. These meetings are very efficient, because for us the best ideas come from spinning individual inputs together and then developing and deepening them. Following the philosophy: teamwork makes the dream work! We also hold "brown bags", where a PRfact employee gives a presentation on a specific communication-related topic in order to provide the rest of the team with new knowledge and input. The more input your expose yourself to, the more new ingenious ideas come to mind!
I invite you to try "Crea-Meetings", "Brown Bags" or Philipp Barth's creative techniques. And I want to leave you with one last thought. Whenever you come across a good idea, there is something very important to keep in mind: you have to be convinced of your own idea! The best ideas become useless if you don't believe in them yourself.