By Marian Salzman, Wednesday, May 2, 2012, at 12:53 pm.
As a PR professional, I know how crucial creativity is to success in business today. As a socially networked person (is there anybody out there who isn’t?), I’ve watched as network friends draw something, write something or video something. As a trendspotter, I’ve read at length Richard Florida’s thoughts on the importance of the creative class. With many cities rising as de facto destinations for creative types, it’s hard to ignore that the very notion of creativity as societal savior is becoming part of a global DNA.
So it was with great interest that I read Ad Age’s piece on Adobe’s global study on creativity that was released last week. The findings were unearthed by StrategyOne, which conducted surveys of 5,000 adults—1,000 per country in France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. Not surprisingly, Americans value creativity as key to growth and regard the U.S. as the world’s most creative country. In terms of those urban hubs bursting at the seams with creative types, Tokyo was regarded globally as most creative, with New York second. And the very notion of what it means to be creative varied from country to country. An American who was surveyed said, “Being creative is being able to see something unique in the world and finding a way to express that in a variety of ways,” while someone in France answered, “Being creative means having the imagination and above all the need to create. It may be an object or simply a concept, a new idea.”
But one idea was most compelling to me (other than how many of the people surveyed put a high premium on living up to one’s creative potential: Seventy-five percent said we aren’t doing so). And that’s this: In the workplace, there is more pressure to be productive than creative. Although 55 percent of those surveyed feel they need to live up to greater expectations to be creative at work, the productivity bit stifles what could very well be a global creative class.
If you are in a profession that requires creative thinking, such as marketing, it’s no surprise that the need to be on 24/7/365 can often make you feel less than crafty. I’ve wondered if good ideas are fewer and farther between because of the sheer amount of stuff we need to make and put out into the world. If you look at advertising and even PR in its salad days, the thinking was a good deal more creative; perhaps it’s because the mad men and women were coming up with ideas for new products and our jaded society today makes it more difficult to come up with something new amid so much chatter. Or maybe it’s because the sheer glut of media has us all stretched way too thin; back in the good old days we had only print, radio, outdoor and TV.
Now every idea needs to have legs to live in a million different places, and our creative juices are tapped dry by excess. The Adobe survey notes that time and money are the biggest barriers to creativity. When many of us are running to stand still when it comes to big ideas at work, it sure would be nice to be able to take a precious minute (or hour) and let great ideas grow. With time, we can see the fruits of our labors win big. At the agency I run, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, I’m most proud of the exceedingly great creative thinking displayed in our CSR campaigns, especially our “Portraits of Heroes” song contest for Sears Heroes at Home and media relations for The French Will Never Forget’s 9/11 anniversary tribute. The first challenged people to submit stories about military heroes, one of which was turned into a song by country music star Josh Gracin; the second touted the nonprofit’s commemoration of one of our country’s darkest days and strengthened the Franco-American bond through the group’s efforts.
Maybe it’s just me, but the best creative stuff today brings about change and recognition of socially responsible endeavors; creativity for creativity’s sake seems indulgent and frivolous amid so much global upheaval. We can take all the creative people we know and form a megaversion of the WPA to not only make stuff but also fix stuff. Is it time to strike a “new deal”? Perhaps it is.
But there’s good news for creativity in 2012 and beyond: Innovation and technology are reframing the way we are able to create, ideate and communicate. It’s an exciting time for many of us in this industry to change the game and craft the news as well as break ground when it comes to ideas and messaging. (I must say that in this age of blogging, vlogging and YouTubing, I was surprised by one stat in the study: Less than 15 percent of those surveyed said that social media plays a large role in “motivating people to create.” How can we explain, with so many armchair writers and artists living online, that social media is not so important to our creative growth? Perhaps because social media fatigue is setting in and many see it as a time waster and hindrance to good old-fashioned creativity—the kind that requires you to sit quietly and alone and explore the inner reaches of the mind, in pure solitude.)
Regardless of whether you create at work or from your backyard studio, one thing is apparent: Creativity is coveted, valued and a quality that many of us believe will move us forward in society, the workplace and our own personal lives.
Many people feel that the constant crisis mode of today’s workplace has them spinning their wheels and that there’s no time to get inspired at home either. It’s not good enough to claim exhaustion, emotional or information overload, or the push-pull to balance life with work. I’m thinking of initiating three hours each Monday for creative juicing, calling it New Biz Mondays, and using the time to think great thoughts about new ways we can make our clients and prospects prosper. By scheduling time, and the requisite snacks, I’m hoping we can zone in on finding the right mindset to crack new codes. It sounds trite, and I always hate it when I hear about couples who make appointments to have sex, but I’m starting to feel like one of those harried 30-somethings when I say, “Schedule it and it will happen”—“it” referring to anything in life—even if it feels stilted in the beginning.
And if our great thoughts help us be finer pro bono marketers, even better—since doing good and doing well are equally demanding of the right creative stuff. In order to foster a class of global citizens that can contribute to and elevate our society today, we’re going to have to get very creative when crafting news, marketing brands and making the world a better place, one big idea at a time.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 12:53 pm. It is filed under Advertising, Features, Marketing, Media, PR, Social Media, Trends and tagged with @erwwpr, Adobe, Advertising Age, always on, cause, creative class, creative thinking, creativity, CSR, Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, France, Germany, global citizens, ideas, Japan, Josh Gracin, Media, New York City, pro bono marketing, Richard Florida, Sears, Social Media, social networks, The French Will Never Forget, the United Kingdom, the United States, Tokyo, trendspotting, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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