How to inspire and foster creativity in the workplace

Whilst it’s easy to recall all-singing, all-dancing campaigns when asked about creativity in PR- Thames-floating, shock-inducing, tear-shedding ideas- creativity runs much deeper than that. It’s the foundation for progress and innovation- from pitching to ways of working.

Great PR has to have creativity at the core. Not only because it is a prerequisite to effective communication, but because PR is stepping up as a competitor to its siblings; marketing and ad giants have positioned ‘creative’ as their beating heart since their inception, and PR needs to do the same. And no, you don’t need a Creative Director to set that benchmark in your team (although it does help).

 Creativity unlocks an agile advantage because it demonstrates an understanding that innovation is fundamental to keeping up with how audiences and people change. In this sense, any agency worth its salt needs to foster an entire culture that inspires and supports creativity, in all its forms. That means acknowledging that not everyone’s creativity is nurtured and brought out in the same way- and investing in accommodating this.

 What might help, are the following tried-and-tested tips for what we have found to make the biggest difference.

 1. Start with a diverse team

Bringing a rich tapestry of experience, identity and talent together is absolutely your most powerful creative asset, and competitive advantage. The best ideas are informed not just by a rich set of data, but by diverse minds.

Diversity has long been an issue in PR and the wider creative industries, and the agencies will only fall short of the best work because of it.

This needs to continue beyond recruitment and into process. At Fanclub, we have a flat structure when it comes to creative ideation for campaigns. Everyone gets involved, together- from interns to directors.

 2. Workspace autonomy

 People need to have autonomy of their own workspace, schedule and way of working to accommodate the true definition of ‘creative thinking’: how people approach problems with solutions. This can depend on so many things, beyond personality and skill.

 Allow flexibility with working hours, where people work and their own day-to-day process.

 Don’t just allow flexibility, but support it. This can also make all the difference to retaining great creative talent- a lack of practical support to help balance work and family life, for example, can mean losing them.

3. Brainstorming: consider time and space

Our MD, Adrian, always says that his best ideas come to him in the shower. Each to their own, truly. Mine usually strike me a few hours deep on Reddit (I like to think of it as ethnographic research…).

 The point is that ideas are not always born inside the confines of a meeting room, in a pressured, time-constrained brainstorm. Plus, not everyone feels comfortable shouting out ideas. Let your team stew, think, ponder and be struck by inspiration outside of the office.

 For campaigns, you might not always be blessed with a decent response time (but that’s for another blog post), but encouraging people to take a walk, sleep on things and contribute in their own time and using their own format will lead to stronger ideation.

4. Always-on creativity and a culture of proactivity  

 Don’t just ask for or rely on creativity once you have a problem or a brief. Encourage an always-on approach to ideas-sharing and creative inspiration.

 At Fanclub, we hold a weekly Open Practice Brainstorm for the entire agency, in which we develop a brief for an existing client or prospective one, and develop ideas in pairs over the week. Not only does this mean we mix up collaboration across the team, but we’ve got a stream of creative sessions and ideas at any given time.

 We also have Slack channels dedicated to sharing creative case studies and thought leadership, as well as a weekly forum to discuss them.

5. Moving away from the pressure of big ideas

 Thinking creatively is not just about huge, integrated campaign ideas. Smart creativity is being proactive with smaller ideas, and not just for smaller campaigns; reactive opportunities, strategic copy, byline ideas, and suggestions for better ways of working are all great ways of demonstrating a creative mindset.

Fostering proactivity like this, for clients and the agency team, showcases the impact of always-on creative thinking and the power of creative solution.

6. Support self-identifying ‘non-creatives’

Everyone has met someone who says that they’re just ‘not very creative’. More often than not, this comes from people believing that to be creative means to strive to be a Creative Director, or simply an issue of confidence. But, as we know, everyone has the capacity for creative thinking in their role. And whilst some might think it can’t be taught, they’re wrong- it’s about exercising those muscles more and more.

Those who lack confidence can often end up sabotaging their potential. It’s up to managers to help them explore what it means to be creative, and help empower them with confidence to share ideas and platform their day-to-day creativity. 

Emily Barnes - Account Director at Fanclub PR

 

 

 

 

 


Congratulations Red Badger team!

We are excited to announce that Red Badger’s ShareThyme has been given an honorable mention in Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards. The platform has been selected for not one, but two mentions in both the Health & Wellbeing and Corporate Social Responsibility categories.

Positive social impact is a key driving force to the work we do Fanclub and integral to our team values, both personally and professionally. As such, we are delighted to be part of such a fantastic project like ShareThyme that’s helping to combat loneliness by bringing generations together through a shared love of cooking.

To see the full list of awards visit Fast Company’s website.

 


Fanclub favs: Binge-watches

There has been a wave of ‘pandemic productivity’ talk across social media, advocating that now is the best time to write that novel you never knew you wanted to write, become a home fitness guru like Joe Wicks or bake enough bread to feed the entire Great Britsh Bake Off crew. But honestly, sometimes you just need to sit back and enjoy good Netflix series binge.

As a further three weeks of lockdown is now upon us, and we’re all compelled to #stayhome and spend more time indoors than we ordinarily would, the team decided that for this weeks ‘Fanclub Favs’ we’d share our favourite shows that we’ve recently binge-watched. All you've got to do now is get comfy and let that autoplay feature do its thing.

 

Emily: There’s a reason why The Sopranos still has an evergrowing fanbase. I remember downloading every season on Limewire, and it was worth every single hour over the week it took to download. Aside from it being the best TV show ever made (yada yada yada), the style moments (CC sopranosstyle on Instagram) are worth it alone. I don’t have anything else to say except to get your friend’s NOW TV log-in and commit.

 

Hannah: I’m going to go mainstream here and say Tiger King. Not only will the series take you on a weird emotional rollercoaster-ride, but you’ll also start to understand the majority of memes that are currently circulating across social. The Netflix documentary follows the life of big cat zoo owner Joe Exotic, whose personality is even more eccentric than his name, and his feud with rival zoon owner, Carlos Baskin. Be prepared because there’s a lot more drama involved in being the owner of a zoo than you might first expect.

 

Camille: Like others have said, I’ve found it hard to pick just one favourite show to binge-watch. But for me, in times of stress or hardship (or global pandemic) I tend to find it difficult to focus on new shows, preferring instead to fall back on comforting old favourites. Depending on mood this could be Gilmore Girls, Veronica Mars or Gossip Girl. But my all-time favourite show to binge-watch has to be Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

A show with great writing, jokes, fashion, love interests, subverted gender roles and an infallible moral centre, Buffy has everything. Plus it’s nice to watch something where the bad guys are clearly signposted and easily vanquished (though don’t get me wrong Buffy and friends have their share of moral ambiguity sometimes). In a nutshell, Buffy is a tiny blonde superstrong “chosen one” destined to fight vampires and demons and save the world. She’s also in high school. It’s binge-watching comfort food, and right now that’s something we could all do with. Because, as Buffy says in the Season Five finale, sometimes “the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”

 

Emilee: This is a tough one, as I have been watching so many shows recently it’s hard to pick just one. If you know me, I have always been a sucker for a reality show, and before moving to London I was hooked on a TLC show called 90 Day Fiancé. If you haven’t heard of the programme before, it’s an American reality TV series that follows couples who have applied for or received a K-1 visa (fiancé visa) in America and then have ninety days to either marry each other or break up. Since moving here, it’s been a struggle to find the time to keep up, but since I have more time than ever now I am hooked, again. With numerous series and spin-offs, it’s a perfect show to entertain and pass the time. 

 

Adrian: It takes me forever to watch any series. My TV time depends on how long my children will allow me to watch a show for (we have terrible sleepers, and rarely have more than 45 minutes before one wakes up). So binging seems like a luxury to us! But, we do love a good series and have enjoyed dark comedy thriller Killing Eve seasons to date. Both Villanelle and Konstantine are style icons for us. And the drama and humour make for a great escape once the kids are in bed.

 

Fabian: I am a serial binger. As soon as a new album, TV show or documentary comes out, I’ve usually gotten through it at least twice within 48 hours. And now we have a lot more time on our hands, I feel like I’ve seen and listened to everything in existence across Netflix and Spotify. So I’ve used the pandemic to binge a new channel; YouTube. There are certain shows I’ll never miss on YouTube (Unhhh, which is one of the sites most popular shows, and Skincare by Hyram are weekly events for me), but one channel that has really caught my attention and warranted a huge four-hour binge the other week comes from YouTube Natalie Wynn aka Contrapoints.

Wynn is a transwoman that explores counterarguments to right-wing rhetoric, discussing everything across politics, gender, ethics, race and philosophy in video essay formats. A firm favourite of mine is her exploration into masculinity and the rise of ‘menism’, which raises some very valid points on the negative aspect of feminism; men have no new framework of masculinity and therefore feel ostracised, ultimately creating the rise of ‘menism’. If you’re looking to really get into her channel, her essay on cancel culture is a must-watch. The almost two-hour video explores the cancelling of makeup YouTuber James Charles, and then descends into Wynn’s experience of being cancelled by the non-binary and trans community. 10/10 would recommend.

 


Fanclub favs. TikTok

In case you haven’t heard, TikTok is the fastest growing social media platform in the world. While some of us might automatically think of the 2009 hit song by Kesha, for others the name has taken on a whole new meaning and has led to the creation of a unique subculture. For brands, this opportunity to achieve cultural relevance by tapping into nuances and connecting with consumers is why TikTok should be a priority consideration for communication professionals.

We at Fanclub are admittedly big TikTok fans and during the past couple weeks, we have been spending a lot (maybe a bit too much) of time on the app. So in light of this, we thought we would share a list of Fanclub’s favourite TikTok’s. We hope you find them as funny and entertaining as we do! 

 

Emilee: Everybody at Fanclub will be able to tell you that I have been hooked on TikTok for some time now, so hooked that I have even given myself a specific time and limit every day to watch them. Every night at 10 pm, you can find me in bed scrolling through my feed while silently giggling to myself for 30mins. As I am on the app quite frequently, I like to think TikTok’s algorithm knows me quite well, as 90% of the videos that are suggested to me are of either dogs or cute old people. So, in line with my theme, one of my favourite TikTok’s comes from Grandma Sandy, who recently discovered the Coke and Mentos challenge for the first time.

 

Fab: Ok first thing’s first; TikTok is literally nothing like Vine. It offers way more in terms of creativity with filters, green screens and even music built into the app. Now I’ve stated that, let me introduce you to one of my many favourites. For context, Anna Faris is one of my favourite actresses of all time (no one has her level of range) and teamed up with the current coronavirus pandemic, it does nothing but make me laugh every time I watch it.

 

Hannah: At the start of the week, before we decided to write this blog I wasn’t on TikTok. And to be honest I was a little sceptical about all the hype around it. Fast forward to last night, I was up until 1:30am watching TikTok videos. Think it’s safe to say that it’s a little addictive and in times like these when we don’t have much else to do with our evenings what’s the harm, right? Here’s my favourite from last night’sbinge - it’s just his face and the look of regret, the more I watch the funnier it gets…

 

Adrian: For me, TikTok is a snack-sized entertainment platform. But what really blows me away is the amount of creative talent on there; I’m excited about the future of content. Because TikTok just fills in the ‘in-between’ moments for me, I enjoy the comedy videos the most. They’re like a little blast of joy to lift you up. Before the UK went into COVID-19 lockdown, this video was shared with me, and I liked the way that this creator captured the criticism of the government’s delayed response to the threat in a really funny way.

 

Camille: My participation in TikTok up to this point has been limited to following various recipe accounts, watching the Rosa and Marlene TikToks (if you know, you know) and marvelling at how funny my 14-year-old sister is on there. I think it’s really fascinating seeing what’s gone viral and done well from the platform. It’s often the really weird, unpredictable, and silly content that fares best, making it unlike any other platform right now. To that end here’s my pick, I think we can all find something to relate to in this TikTok. Sometimes we are all this aggressively southern child, just wanting to pet a dog, other times we might be the dog that you’re not allowed to pet. Ultimately this is a TikTok about the human condition. Also, this kid’s voice is hilarious.

 

Emily: Amidst the chaos of the world right now, TikTok is undeniably a destination for light relief. What I particularly love at the moment is how its content transcends generations- and keeps the world connected, no matter what their age. Outside of ruddy-faced dads bounding down the driveway to Blinding Lights, and eating a continental breakfast with Old Man Steve , I was beaming when I watched videos from Westhill Park. The residents at the care home in Kettering have all been isolating, but have been staying connected by learning TikTok dance challenges- from Elvis to Doja Cat. For every naysayer who says that TikTok is a Gen Z cesspit, there is a 90-year-old grooving to Funky Town and becoming a small-scale TikTok sensation. It definitely brought a smile to my face!


The women who inspire Fanclub

Today is International Women’s Day: a day to celebrate women, a day to highlight the gender inequalities that many women still face, and a day to work together to overcome them.

From mothers to daughters, writers to entrepreneurs, there are a wealth of inspiring women who surround us every single day, and we hope to continue to learn more about their spirit and ambition. To celebrate International Women’s day today, we asked the team to tell us about women who personally inspire them.  The result is a list of truly wonderful women who have inspired us to be passionate and tenacious in being our best selves and striving to help others around us.

 

Liz Travis, aka my mum. She continues to inspire me each and every day with her eternal patience (with me, anyway!); selflessness, generosity and love- and for putting her children before her every step of the way. She not only conquers adversity with steely determination and an unflappable sense of being, but does so whilst being one of the most glamorous and stylish women I have the pleasure of knowing. 

- Georgie

 

Marta Krupinska, Co-Founder of Azimo, is one of the most impressive and passionate entrepreneurs who inspires me.  Ambitious, honest and a champion for diversity, she’s a great role model for anyone who wants to help change or make the world a better place. Also, the boxer Nicola Adams, who proved that determination, hard work and sacrifices can lead to achieving global recognition and success (and she’s been turned into a Barbie doll!)

Jonny

 

Jenni Cochrane, Director of Culture and Partnerships at AEI Media. Jenni has been someone I’ve admired since the day I met her (when I interviewed her for a piece on women in the music industry). She has such an amazing presence that’s captivating and stays with you. She’s smart and strong, she’s a mother, a director at a really cool business and she’s a woman that’s worked and thrived in a male-dominated world for years, Jenni is inspiring on so many levels.  

Also, my mum, Dr Ruth Padday. I’m especially proud of her for receiving an honours for all the charity work she’s done from setting up a young people’s clinic and working as a doctor at festivals to providing aid to rural villages in Nepal and working for the JST which takes disabled people sailing on tall ships. She’s currently deep in the ocean sailing and no doubt helping others as she usually does.

Joey

 

Besides my mum and my three sisters, I’m inspired by American director, writer, producer, and distributor, Ava DuVernay. She began in journalism, shifted to PR, and then went on to create award winning films and documentaries. She followed her ambition (even funding her first film) and is relentless to tell the stories that deserve to be told. Her ambition and perseverance (and not to mention her talent!) are truly inspiring.

Megan

 

Obviously, the most inspiring person in the world is my mother - a single parent to two young children who never let her own problems get in the way of the happiness of me and my sister. She juggled a million different strands of life, whilst teaching me and my sister the value of hard-work, manners, self-expression, travel, happiness and of course, LOVE.

Matt

 

Aside from my utterly selfless and compassionate mum and sister, who have both shown me marked support and taught me to be uncompromising with who I am and what I deserve, I’m always in awe of those who have shown dedication to supporting others with resources to support mental health. Jane Lawson founded CSTUK-  a complimentary and volunteer-led organisation founded to support victims of the Grenfell disaster with community based support therapies, and counselling. The organisation offers invaluable support to victims of disasters- from children to those in the emergency services. Also, author and food writer Ruby Tandoh, who has inspired a refreshing dialogue that advocates the nourishing power of food for physical and mental wellbeing. Ruby celebrates how food has unique potential to sustain healthy relationships with ourselves and others- speaking to a broad spectrum of issues affecting everyone from migrant communities to those struggling with their mental health.

Emily

 

I’m going to cheat, and name a few women. I’m lucky to have some incredible women in my home, family and work life. I’m inspired by mum, for her capacity to put other people’s happiness before her own, and her unlimited kindness. I’m inspired by my wife, Amy, for her compassion, style, creativity and I’m envious of her ability to multitask. I’m also inspired by my two daughters for their curiosity and endless energy (which keeps me entertained). At work, I'm lucky to work with super talented men and women who push me to be the best version of myself, every day.

Adrian