What’s the essence of creativity?

I was interested in joining DKC because the firm had a reputation for creativity.

Friends in the field told me that DKC did things differently, though I wasn’t quite sure what that meant. With only a year and a half of experience under my belt, different was good. Years from now, I didn’t want to look back on my career and realize that I hadn’t exposed myself to the wide range of possibilities within the PR industry.

When I arrived in December 2007, I wasn’t sure how I would adapt to an environment where creativity was so highly prized. I was a little concerned that I didn’t have the right personality. I’m not particularly artistic, I don’t thrive on chaos, and I’m usually a few cycles behind the latest fashions and trends.

A year and a half later, I’m still not part of the cultural vanguard, but my understanding of what it means to be creative and how to access that inherent creativity has taken a 180-degree turn.

I suspect that a lot of junior staffers in the PR industry pigeonhole creativity as coming up with the brilliant, game-changing idea in a brainstorming session. At least that was my mindset. While that’s certainly important, I’ve learned that is just one way that creativity can be accessed and applied. It comes into play in writing pitches and press releases, everyday problem solving, and yes, the occasional brainstorm.

Through advice from a host of DKC veterans, commentary from guest speakers, and my own experience working in the DKC environment, I’ve absorbed some key takeaways on the subject of creativity:

Trust your gut.

Everyone has heard the expression, ”write what you know” when it comes to authors. The same principle applies to creative thinking. Draw upon your instincts, past experiences, and interests when thinking of exciting ways to promote a client, because you bring a unique perspective that no one else can offer. Even if your perspective does not produce the big idea, it may lead to discussion that does.

Keep it simple.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve picked up in my time here came from Newsday columnist Ellis Henican, who spoke to a group of DKC staff on the topic of writing well. He told us that one of the most crucial parts of writing is to just get started. Don’t overcomplicate in the beginning stages, and just write whatever comes to mind. There will be time to refine and edit later, but in the beginning drafts, the worst thing you can do is be a perfectionist, because it stifles creative thought.

Think of yourself as your own boss.

The DKC environment encourages an entrepreneurial mindset that does wonders for the creative mind. The atmosphere forces you to be a problem solver and allows you to feel more ownership over the work you are doing. As a junior staffer, I may need approval from a supervisor before going forward on a particular pitch or executing an idea, but never to initiate a conversation. In fact, this blog post is the result of that kind of thinking. There’s a firm-wide attitude that everyone, no matter the title, can and should take a proactive role in the success of their clients.

Get out there and experience the world outside of the office.

You never know where your next big idea is going to come from, but chances are your life outside the office will play a role. In nearly every brainstorming session I’ve attended, a great idea arose from life away from the 9-to-7 world. Whether it stems from the latest crazy YouTube video, a recent cross-country trip, or experience volunteering at a local soup kitchen, many valuable ideas have their origins away from the workplace.

Undoubtedly, I have more to learn and experience on the subject of creativity, and anyone at DKC would probably tell you the same thing. If there’s one thing that’s true about all creative people, it’s that they have open minds and an eagerness to learn. Fortunately, those are two traits found in abundance here.

Posted by Sami Ghazi, Junior Account Executive