By: Wimpi Handoko – Branding & Communication Strategy Expert of Fortune PR
Remember the “Ice Bucket Challenge”? This was a brilliantly conceptualized and well-executed viral social campaign to raise the awareness of a rare disease that affects the nerve cells in the human brain called Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis syndrome (ALS). It not only raises a worldwide awareness of the disease but also collected a research donation of USD 115 million in just eight weeks in 2014 and consequently made it possible for a significant clinical research breakthrough. A rare and difficult-to-pronounce disease made popular world wide in a short period of time!
On a much more local and subtle level, Indonesia’s 7th president Joko Widodo once made a small yet noticeable gesture during several of his popular “blusukan” visits by wearing a red rapper snap cap with a white embroidered “+62” which immediately were captured in a trending topic across the media. +62 is of course the international telephony code for the country used by Indonesia’s state-owned telecommunication provider Telkom. That one and only hat, worn by Indonesia’s president traveling across the country says everything.
They are right to say that creativity is the final output of the marketing communication industry because with creativity a message or set of messages can be noticed, distinctive, understood and create impact by how we creatively craft the message to the intended target audience. Creativity does not belong only to the advertising industry; in fact it is a crucial element to any form of marketing communication including public relations.
We live in a time where we are blessed with new technology innovations so that we can have the luxury to the freedom of information, the choices of communication mediums and in touch with one another across the world in more convenient ways. It means that a person is now receiving more information than the generation before; more effort to sort which information is relevant without having more time to do it. Information flow in a flash; responses are done quickly and decision made abruptly. Imagine you need to communicate a message to such a person in such an environment competing with others trying to win a spot in her or his mind and hopefully get the brain’s algorithm going in your favor.
Creativity in public relations is the perfect convergence between the “what to say” and the “how to say”: a message that is in sync with the issue at hand as well as relevant to its target and crafted in a way that gets the distinction, the attention, the awe, the interest, the sympathy culminating in a desire to participate and engage in. Hence the birth of “Ice Bucket Challenge”, the “+62” red cap, “Occupy Wall Street”, “Black Lives Matter”, “Share a Coke” which in each different way have successfully moved people.
Public relations is all about conversation, conversation between a brand with its stakeholders as well as people in general, conversation that is intended to shape the reputation of the brand and a satisfied and participative audience at the other end. Conversation that can spark enthusiasm, create engagement and a feeling of accomplishment for all sides. For a conversation to be participated by all sides, it must like any other communication be crafted creatively.
A conversation of an issue done from a unique platform; seen from an angle that is unexpected; carrying talking point that is original (avoiding hyperbolic intention) and done in an abrupt way is one of the trademarks of a creative conversation. Such approach would be more likely to get the attention of chief editors of major mass media, a starting point for conversation in social media and if managed carefully and correctly, converge in an engagement that benefit all sides.
Simple yet original when Indonesia’s president accepted to use the +62 red cap and made clear the support given to Indonesia’s state own telecommunication provider.
It was unexpected for Bill Gates to participate in the original and unique ice bucket challenge to create awareness of an unfamiliar and difficult-to-pronounce disease.
The unexpected and abruptness of young people converging onto the streets of New York City and eventually other cities around the world protesting the world’s financial order made “Occupy Wall Street” not only made it viral around the world but create concerns amongst governments of developing nations.
The unique opportunities given by Coca Cola to have your name on their can made the “Share A Coke” so close and engaging for consumers.
Creativity is endless (so they say) and as long as people converse, public relation campaign would always need a distinctive way to intercommunicate, an unexpected and unique way of campaigning and executed it abruptly so that people will never get tired of seeing and listening and participating. Without creativity, public relation would only be seen as image building, reputation maker and all those things in between that will make people only read headlines.