‘Creativity is more important to PR than measurement’

By Johnny Pitt,

Read these next couple of paras. They’re not mine, but please do read them. Twice, if you have to. Try and stay calm. And then go on to read the whole article. But please do read to the end. As if you only get half way through, I’m worried you’ll quit our extraordinarily brilliant industry on the spot.

At the recent AMEC Global Summit, Alex Aiken (hugely well-respected) Head of the UK Government Communication Service said: “I believe that measurement is the most important communication discipline.”

Stuart Bruce, CIPR Board member and, again, a well-respected industry pro, writing-up the take outs of the AMEC summit carried on with: “If you only take one thing from AMEC’s 10th global summit it should be Alex Aiken’s bold assertion. In PR and communications there is far too much emphasis on creativity.

“Most PR and communications isn’t creative and needn’t be creative. What it should be is effective. The way to make it effective is to use measurement for insight before you start, measurement to improve as you implement and evaluation at the end to see what you’ve achieved and how you can improve.”

I can’t make out whether Stuart himself believes ‘most PR isn’t creative and needn’t be creative’ – but either way, it’s frankly an alarming thing to read.

I don’t dispute the effective point at all (of course). But PR is about creative solutions being effective.

If PR is not creative, or doesn’t aspire to be creative AND effective, we might as well turn out the lights and go home. And the way to make it effective is to use measurement of course.

As a PR agency/team/in house/sole trader or other, knows, without good ideas you’re screwed. Simple as that. Nowhere to go. Or if you go without one (i.e. use an average idea), you’ll fail. And they must be linked to robust evaluation. But no amount of ‘measurement for insight’ will solve bloody anything.

Most PR isn’t creative and needn’t be creative? It’s been giving me a headache for the last few days, so to help me feel better, (and you by now, as you promised to read the whole article, right?), have a peruse:

  • Missing Type
  • Gregory & Gregory for Greggs
  • Virgin Trains Avocard
  • CALM’s suicide sculptures
  • Ikea rugs being used as Game of Thrones costumes
  • Beano vs Jacob Rees-Mogg
  • 3 billboards for Grenfell
  • The Royal Wedding
  • Trump’s presidential campaign
    #notinmyname
  • Jet Blue and crying babies
  • Airbnb listing Sweden on its site
  • Nike ‘Breaking 2’
  • Van Gough Bnb
  • ‘Trash Isles’ by LadBible and the Plastic Oceans Foundation
  • Oh, and of course, Baby Trump flying over London (like it or loathe it, I’m sure you smirked, just a bit)

Et voila. Effective creative solutions. It’s what we do.

Johnny Pitt is Founder of creative comms agency, Launch and also The Creative Shootout 

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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