How to Effectively Brainstorm for PR Ideas
We’ve put our digi PR hats on and come up with the (what we think is) the ultimate brainstorm list, from giving yourself a break from the office (really, it works), to the good old trusty mind-map, you’ll be flooded with game-changing PR ideas in no time. Let’s get creative…
Invite the appropriate people to the session
The goal of a brainstorming session is to come up with ideas, and hopefully, a solution for your next campaign or PR strategy. This means you need to have the right people involved in the creative and decision-making process. But remember, the right people may not necessarily be those that you work with every day – they could be from other teams and departments, and bring fresh perspectives, experience and knowledge to the table. Ultimately you want a diverse range of ideas that are all tangible to what you’re trying to achieve.
So, look at what your end goal is, and invite those who you feel would be beneficial. Also, don’t be excessive when it comes to the invites. 3-6 people is the perfect amount – it’ll make sure everyone gets a say, and enough ideas get passed around without becoming overwhelming.
Prepare the necessary tools and materials
One of the central heartbeats of a productive brainstorming session is organisation. Before you gather your team together, make sure you’ve got everything in place to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Here are some things you might want to prep prior:
- Book the space – make sure the place you’re hosting the session is free before everyone arrives.
- Have you got the necessary hardware needed? We’re talking projector syncing, WiFi, connecting to the meeting room, etc.
- Have you got general stationery for people to take notes? Pens, paper, etc.
- Refreshments are important too! Keep your team motivated with water and healthy snacks that they can help themselves to throughout the meeting.
Everyone has heard of the mind-map, and there’s a reason why. It’s one of the most visual idea-inducing planning techniques in modern history. From using it in school, throughout college and university, it’s valued in the professional world, too.
When mind-mapping for PR, start by placing the main topic in the centre. It could be the client, or again, the product or service you’re trying to promote. Surround it initially with related words and ideas – there doesn’t need to be any order or detail to begin with – just what comes to mind.
Then, once you’ve exhausted every avenue of possible relations, go back over them and circle out the most prominent ideas. It could be the most creative word, the word most relating to the word in the middle, or the most unique word that you think could spark a seriously creative campaign. You can then delve deeper into the ideas you’ve singled out and from there, brainstorm potential campaign ideas that you think could work.
If you intend on making your mind-map session a collaborative experience, using digital tools like Miro is a great way to do this.
Spend some time alone
Taking some me-time is essential for so many reasons. It’s a way we can recharge after a busy day, a way to look after our mental health, and also a great way to prepare for a brainstorming session.
And it’s not just you that could benefit from spending some time alone, either. Whether you’re the one leading the looming ideas meeting, or you’re simply a participant, once everyone gets the brief, recommend they take some time out to do some research or come up with their own thoughts away from any influence. Then, once everyone rejoins for the discussion, give everyone an equal opportunity to share their ideas if they feel comfortable. You’ll be surprised how creative you can be when you sit in a calming environment with just yourself.
Invite anonymous submissions before the session
Touching on the previous point, if you know some members of your team aren’t as confident at sharing their thoughts as others, invite everyone to submit anonymous ideas before you start. They can all then be shared openly in a safe space, and people can add and expand to them without knowing who thought of it. This is also a great exercise for getting people who don’t usually work together to work together, as well as making sure the meeting gets off to a productive start.
Look at existing topics and articles
In PR and marketing, you always need to be aware of what’s going on around you. From the campaigns your competitors are launching, to current trends that are circulating the internet, make sure you’re constantly looking at the existing press surrounding the industry you’re brainstorming for.
Once you know what you’re up against, or what’s already been done, ask yourself and your team – can we do it better? Can we replicate it? Do we have more data or intel that our competitors won’t have access to? Can we spin a new angle?
Look at what’s out there and see if you can find where their links are coming from, and see if you can spot any patterns in the most successful campaigns they’ve run. There’s no harm in taking inspiration from others, so long as you don’t outright copy an idea. Plus, the whole idea of a trending topic is that a whole bunch of media outlets will cover it – hence the word trending.
So, if there’s a current trend out there that’s relevant to your brand, you’d be missing an opportunity if you didn’t jump on it and ride the wave!
Get out of your workspace
Similar to giving yourself the chance to have some me-time, getting out of your workspace environment can be super beneficial to your creativity and productivity. There are lots of studies and stats that prove how movement and walking improve imaginativeness, resourcefulness, and inspiration, so what better excuse than to up-on-out from your desk (within reason, obvs) and head out into the fresh air for a think and a breather?
The best marketing ideas don’t happen in that monthly strategy meeting.
They come from moments of scrappiness. Or serendipity.
Here are 16 ways to generate those creative ideas:
— Amanda Natividad (@amandanat) June 15, 2022
Whether you take a walk with your peers and chat ideas in a different setting, or you take a stroll alone, new sights, sounds and people can really stimulate your brain. You may even come up with the most genius campaign idea while walking along the beach, trekking through a meadow, or having a cup of coffee at your favourite cafe.
And talking of productivity enhancers – make sure your desk is clean and tidy for when you get back. An organised work environment is also essential if you want to get the best out of yourself. It’s true, the Staples Corporation found that 94% of workers felt more productive in a clean workspace, and 77% said they produce a higher quality of work when it’s clean.
Create and launch some killer campaigns
That’s why we’re here, right? We want to work together to execute some of the coolest and most creative campaigns possible. In the marketing world, a campaign – and a successful one at that – has so many steps, faces, and people behind it, but it all starts with the ideas.
By taking the above tips into your next brainstorming session, you’ll be much better equipped at coming out the other side with a backpack full of credible and original ideas that will hopefully morph into a killer campaign.