Before I started working in public relations, I never thought anyone would reject my ideas for being too creative. However, just a short time in the profession has taught me that great ideas are frequently rejected in favor of staid approaches to communications that never aim to improve company positioning. strengthen customer relationships or even improve the bottom line. I have often wondered why subtle tweaks in the same rhetoric are approved and information simply gets recycled. Why would anyone choose to be mediocre — on purpose?
Disclaimer — I am not speaking about any recent experience in particular or any specific personal or professional experience. I talk to lots of other people in public relations, marketing and advertising and many have pondered these same things in conversation and in print.
Great ideas often die an unceremonious death, or more often lie like sleeping beauty on servers in agencies and marketing departments everywhere just in case the planets align and the universe ushers in the perfect opportunity to bring this great idea into reality for some well-deserving prince of a client company.
I’m glad to see that someone is trying to figure out an answer to this question I have been carrying around in a way that provides a tactical solution.
This week’s issue of Advertising Age features excerpts from Cleve Langton’s new book Save the Jargon and the Radical Risks; Be a Leader By Respecting Client’s Culture
Being innovative and provocative in your presentation is great. Going against a long-standing company philosophy or style is like diving into a shallow pool. Suki Thompson, a seasoned consultant in London, makes it very clear: “Clients talk about wanting a revolution but they’ll generally only buy an evolution in a pitch.
“They will buy a revolution only when they’re working comfortably with you.”
Reading CEO speeches and the company’s annual report are great sources of information on what truly makes the company tick and what the tolerance for change and risk really is. Most large companies have relatively narrow parameters of what’s acceptable and what’s not. Unless there’s a very dramatic business imperative, most CEOs don’t step out of their circles of comfort. The annals of lost pitches are littered with great (possibly business-doubling) ideas that just didn’t fit within the corporate culture.
While conducting initial research into a company’s communications goals and core audiences very little is done to research the culture within the organization. The exception to this rule, of course, is when there is an explicit request for an internal communications plan.
Clearly there must be a way to inject just the right amount of creativity into a proposal for a great communications strategy that honors corporate culture and points the way toward the revolution.
Could this be the missing piece of the puzzle people like me have been searching for? Does this apply to people in other non-marketing professions that cater to business customers?