by Siobhan Veddovi-McCaughan

What does creativity mean to you? It’s not often in our busy work lives that we get a chance to take a step back and reflect on how the PR industry is evolving and with it, our definition of creativity. But a couple of weeks ago, I was lucky enough to attend the 2017 PRIA National Conference, which was focused on ‘Powerful Ideas and Influence’. The day was full of thought-provoking ideas and imaginative themes but it was one particular speech that really resonated with me.

UTS Course Director and founder of ‘Creative Intelligence’ (a new field of communications that demonstrates how transdisciplinary thinking can transform the way we think), Bem Le Hunte shared her insights on the future of the industry and why creative thinking is more important than ever.

According to Le Hunte, a focus on creative thinking is spreading far beyond the traditional creative industries, with even the most conservative finance and accounting firms opening ‘Innovation Departments’. This, in turn, means our industry needs to think differently and adapt to move beyond those who fit the stereotypical cookie-cutter PR mould. Which is something I am proud to say that many agencies, including Weber Shandwick, are already doing.

As someone who stumbled upon the field whilst studying International Relations and Linguistics at university over three years ago, I had never considered public relations as a career option as I did not think of myself or my skill set as naturally creative or outside of the norm. But this speech reaffirmed my decision, because as Le Hunte said, “most innovation happens between the cracks between disciplines” and inspiration can come from anywhere.

We can never have enough perspectives that provide a fresh outlook.  As a self-appointed “collector of experiences”, Le Hunte urges us to consider how different people in our lives might approach a challenge, new product launch or a crisis situation. Similarly, she said that PR agencies should reflect this mixing pot, engaging people from all walks of life, whether that be different genders, educations, cultures or skill sets. Jumble these people together and you come out with a toolbox of innovative approaches to generate award-winning ideas.

Innovation and creativity should also not be siloed into one definition or role, but work to people’s strengths and the various ways people from all areas of the agency may perceive creativity. For example, I may not be a designer or a copywriter, but my problem solving skills and ability to think on my feet is nothing if not creative.

In this digital age, where social media never stops and we suffer from information overload, we become heavily influenced by what others say and do. But despite the focus on AI, measurement and data, it is still the human experience that is central to creating meaningful connections.

Le Hunte advocates for moving beyond our comfort zones, encouraging us to embark on an adventure and make discoveries for ourselves. She herself has travelled the world many times over, coming away having written multiple novels and with an invaluable wealth of experience.

It is up to all of us to go out there and trail blaze to inspire new thinking that will cut through. I can only hope this helps me become a “collector of experiences” too.

Siobhan Veddovi-McCaughan is an Account Manager at Weber Shandwick Australia

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