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Evan Burkhart

Published on

March 2, 2015


creativity, international, PR, travel

As PR pros, thinking outside of the box is often our greatest asset.

Our ability to look at an idea and ask the right questions enables us to bring a unique and informed perspective to our clients’ businesses, and in doing so help propel them forward. But how do we keep pushing ourselves? How do we continue to expand that box so we can cover more ground?

One way is to go outside our office walls to expand our perspectives and set new, further reaching boundaries. Following my recent week in our LEWIS London office on secondment, I have some thoughts to share on the topic.

Throughout my week in our flagship office, and the subsequent vacation in Paris, I was constantly reminded of the connection between imagery and emotion. As a long time connoisseur of all things Disney (and a former employee), my first experience of stained glass windows was in the form of animation, with intros to several of the great animated classics relying on stained glass to set the stage for the story that would soon unravel.

As I looked at the ancient glass that had inspired the Disney animators, I was feeling nostalgic from the memory of those fairy tales of younger years. So my take away was vastly different than what was intended by the creators. As the world of communications continues to become more and more visual it will be important for PR pros to think about the emotional component of images to not only avoid potential issues but also to leverage that connection to elicit emotion and drive consumer action.

Another important lesson garnered from my trip was the reminder that as storytellers we have the ability to make the impossible possible, but as PR professionals, we don’t.

Nowhere was this more evident than the Tower of London. When I looked up at the gate Errol Flynn held up with one hand while fending off what appeared to be an army of guards with the other in the classic 1938 film “Robin Hood,” the fact that the gate weighed two tons seemed incredibly obvious. But in the movie that thought didn’t even register because it was Robin Hood and he could do anything.

As PR professionals we cannot overdramatize the narrative. Our challenge is to tell compelling, truthful stories in the most creative way possible. We can manipulate the content, context and medium but must never stray from the facts and always keep a realistic view in focus.

So the next time a client puts on their cloak of invincibility and wants to hold up the gate with one hand and fight off all of their competitors with the other, don’t hesitate to remind them how heavy that gate is.

After all, bringing that perspective to the conversation is what will drive PR results and avoid the overly self-promotional content that quickly kills returns on even the most creative ideas. The last lesson came from a concept that has quite obviously stood the test of time: sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns, and punch it in the face.

Sometimes there is just no substitute for tenacity and perseverance. Even great ideas often take a certain amount of muscle to come to fruition. This is especially true in the tech sector where there is always so much noise.

The key to rising above the cacophony is simply saying something different, but saying it louder than everyone else. So when an opportunity presents itself, don’t shy away from attacking it and often you’ll find that your efforts are rewarded with results.

Those are just a few of the ways I was able to get ‘outside of the box’ while on secondment and they have already started making an impact on my ability to think creatively and bring a new perspective to my clients’ campaigns.

So for all PR pros out there, don’t forget to expand your horizons. New experiences in and outside of the office can have a profound impact on your creativity and ability to look at situations through a more well-rounded lens.

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