by Pablo Pérez
Above all else, creativity is about perspective. A way of looking, thinking, living, seeing and being. A set of skills, behaviors and attitudes.
In other words, there is no such thing as a recipe for creativity beyond having the courage to let your mind fly, seeking collaboration and holding a slightly cynical way of seeing life and the things around you.
The challenge is how to get creative in your upcoming communication campaigns. What you can do first is to be smart by following all the rules we know about communication (defining your objective, knowing your audience, etc.) and then once you have mastered these, you can have fun breaking the rules.
This is easier said than done, so here are three lessons I learned from running creative campaigns and that I have applied in my chosen campaign success story (read at the bottom).
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Lesson 1: simple ≠ boring
One of the first mistakes is overcomplicating the topic you have to communicate on. That’s how you end up writing slogans that mean nothing and scripted communications that resonate with no one.
If you want to really shape things, you would need to show, not just say. You need to abandon slogans and empty phrases. This is why video has become the reigning king of communication.
When it comes to video marketing, again, do not complicate it more than you need to. Costly productions or fancy visuals will only resonate among a tiny part of your audience. A politician taking their own phone to actually record a message or do a live, spontaneous Q&A will do the trick for a wider audience. People want to see authenticity in an age of over-produced content.
For example, take a look at Macron’s latest videos that immediately went viral. They were shot from his house, with his own phone and as if nothing was prepared in advance. Of course, we all know that was not the case but the feeling was different. It was a one-to-one message talking directly to you.
Lesson 2: you are not funny, and that’s fine
Another common mistake is to mix up creativity with humour. When it comes to political communication, there is a starting point you should never forget: you are not funny. The sooner you accept that, the better. The politician you are working for is not funny either. And the sooner they understand that, the better.
But it is exactly there where you can find a window of opportunity. When no one is expecting you to be funny, you can play with the surprise factor. Going for the smile is always better than aiming for the big laughs. At the end of the day, especially if you are communicating in different countries, Italians will not laugh at the same jokes as the French in the same way they will not be interested in the same political proposals.
Lesson 3: seek coordination and collaboration
Let’s start with the don'ts:
- Do not try to create a campaign alone.
- Do not try to impose your creative mind over that of your colleague or partners.
- Do not hide yourself behind the ‘hard’ topic. There is creativity in fun environments, but also in the challenging ones.
On the contrary, do:
- Keep your team members close, offer a free environment and let them do their process.
- Pay attention to details for each piece of content.
- Be prepared for the worst rather than for the best.
- Find partners to collaborate with.
- Make sure everything is clear and understandable.
In summary, being practical and useful for your audience is still one of the best strategies to follow. If the actual concept of the campaign is something you would never share with any of your friends, contacts or family… it will never find success.
And one last thing: be proud of the content you create and the interaction you can build up. You won’t always be successful but the most important thing is to test, try and never give up.
Pablo Pérez Armenteros is a digital, political and strategic communication advisor.
Formerly a journalist, he develops multilingual, multichannel and multimedia campaigns and communications strategies.
Campaign success story
The EU Intellectual Property Office, based in Alicante, put in motion an initiative to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) recover from the economic effects of the pandemic.
We developed a social media approach sustained by two major pillars: daily information (practical, useful stuff) and medium-long term (building a narrative). The former was focused around getting people the information they needed. The latter aimed to be positive - to draw out a smile in turbulent times.
The first example is a visual design aimed at getting a smile, something you wouldn’t expect from an account focused on the boring field of intellectual property.
The second example is a video showing how a European company is trying to solve a common problem: the boredom we feel when going to the gym.
Recommendations from the author
Public Opinion Does Not Exist by Pierre Bourdieu https://www.scribd.com/doc/78029068/73104573-Public-Opinion-Does-Not-Exist-Pierre-Bourdieu-1972
Seriously funny: The political work of humor on social media: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324016051_Seriously_funny_The_political_work_of_humor_on_social_media
Reuters Digital News report 2021 https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/digital-news-report/2021/dnr-executive-summary
The Politics of Humour: Laughter, Inclusion and Exclusion in the Twentieth Century by Martina Kessel and Patrick Merziger https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3138/j.ctt2tv1t3