Show of hands from anyone feeling like they could use an influx of creativity and energy.
Yes, there’s a lot of that going around, among individuals and organizations. The pandemic drags on, winter continues to blanket much of the country in snow and gray skies, and the doggone groundhog saw his shadow. Breathing new life into personal and professional projects could be just what’s needed.
Luckily the first few months of the year are also a time when people’s minds turn to renewal and reorganization, and they have a higher tolerance for rethinking how they approach things. And remember, creativity isn’t just for “creatives.” Sure, the graphic designers and writers on your team need to be creative, but it’s a skill and mindset that can elevate any role, from staff accountant to customer service manager. To be sure, every member of the communications and marketing team needs to prioritize creativity.
If you’re considering ways to get more creative in your organization’s communications and marketing, here are a few things to consider:
Have some fun
Even for organizations doing very serious work, creative thinking and an ability to think outside the box can make a difference. While trying to infuse work materials, processes and strategies with creativity, don’t forget to have some fun and get out of your comfort zone once in a while.
Is there any reason the quarterly brainstorming sessions can’t take place at an axe-throwing venue or while trying to conquer an escape room game? What about holding the annual meeting at a park, where you talk about the year-ahead strategies and goal-setting while playing bocce and grilling hot dogs?
Likewise, the investment of time and money to take the whole team to a well-vetted think tank or innovation training company for a day or weekend can pay off in a new sense of energy and idea generation. In the Greater Cincinnati area, plenty of corporate groups have gotten infusions of new thinking through outings to the Camp Joy Venture Out! Team and Leadership Development Camps and the Eureka Ranch, and there are plenty of other options. Check with area chambers of commerce, business development centers, entrepreneur incubators and leadership roundtable groups. Corporate human resources teams and leadership development groups are often good sources to find creativity-boosting options, as well.
Keep professional development top-of-mind
Learning a new way of approaching a problem or digging into some new research in your field can be great ways not only to add to team members’ skill sets but also to unlock new ways of thinking. If regular professional development isn’t part of the expectations from your team, consider adding it.
Sure, sending people to industry conferences or certification classes can certainly ramp up the way they tackle their work. If that’s in the budget, by all means encourage it. Some companies require or make available at least one travel opportunity per year for members of key teams to attend such events.
But there are plenty of low-cost or even free professional development offerings either virtually or in the town where you operate. Check with the industry organizations with which your team is already affiliated, has membership in or for which your members may hold leadership positions Many if not most of them offer online courses and skills-sharpening opportunities.
Many communications and marketing teams, for example, belong to HubSpot, which offers online courses in everything from YouTube Marketing to Lead Engagement Strategy to Growth-Driven Design and many more through its HubSpot Academy. Other great places to look for affordable professional development opportunities include the local or regional chapters of the Public Relations Society of America, the American Marketing Association, the Ad Club, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Black Marketers Association of America, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Association for Women in Communications.
Other good sources of professional development opportunities to spark creativity include college alumni associations, sorority and fraternity alumni groups, leadership organizations such as the Rotary International, young leaders networking groups and, of course, chambers of commerce and professional business associations.
Unlocking creativity and finding new ways to tackle work problems can also come from self-directed reading and research. Media outlets such as Inc. Magazine, the Harvard Business Review and Forbes frequently publish articles and tip sheets on unleashing creativity. Here’s a great place to start – career development platform Indeed.com offers directions on 18 creativity exercises; one of them is sure to get your mind wandering toward something new. Consider allowing every member of your team to spend an hour or two per week on self-directed creativity activities such as reading and attending webinars.
Onward and Upward
Everything changes. Snow melts. Gray skies turn blue. What are you doing to tackle tomorrow with a creative new approach to your work?