“What is creative?”: that’s the question I started with scrawled down on my notepad. At the Social Creative Leadership discussion I attended during Social Media Week, the broadness of the discussion extended from the concept of creativity itself, to creative application in business, but ended as an apt warning to the growing creative contingent that Edelman is part of. The scene is changing, as creative content comes from sources unimaginable in past years, on platforms we are still learning to use and control, in an exponentially growing environment.
What I learnt was that we need to recognise three key things moving forward when we think of the word creative. First, it’s an increasingly competitive environment: a territory that multiple actors are trying to influence, which we can only dominate by produce the best creative work. Platforms, brands, PR agencies, Marketing agencies, digital agencies: there’s a lot of us, a cluttered field, and the standard is rising. To be the best, we’ve got to rise above ever improving contemporaries.
Second, there’s more than one answer to a question. One member of the panel said he defined creativity in exactly this manner: answering a question in more than one way. We are all problem solvers, and this approach to creativity goes beyond Edelman internally – there is a client’s method, an Edelman method, a departmental method, but it’s by approaching our questions open to whichever way gives the optimal outcome that we should measure our creativity.
Finally, our audience is getting smarter, so we need to. It’s not simple a question of numbers, we have to ask what kind of people are we reaching, how we interact with them, whether they want to listen to us at all. It’s by approaching them in a fundamentally different way than we have in the past that we change the conversation, and that we stay ahead of the pack.
The challenge now is to be open to what’s different. If we want to stay ahead of the curve, we have to be better than those around us, and the phone box is getting cramped. To stay ahead, we have to go back to creative asking the right question: what’s another answer to the same question.