The ever excellent Holmes Report website has just published its latest survey into ‘Creativity in PR’. It makes for fairly dismal reading.
This year’s survey was published under the headline: “Despite the obvious importance of creativity in PR, firms continue to underwhelm when clients actually rate their creative capabilities.”
But it gets worse. Last year’s survey was published under the headline: “More than half of all respondents describe the quality of creativity within the PR industry as ‘ordinary’ or worse.”
So 12 months on and nothing has improved.
True, when it comes to creativity, PR comes out ahead of both media and experiential agencies, but let’s face it – that’s not really much to shout about.
And when it comes to ‘Big Ideas’, PR agencies are really letting their clients down.
So why are PR agencies failing to deliver the goods?
I think the main reason is historical. Up until a few years ago, PR creativity revolved around one-off stunts (unfortunately it still does for a lot of agencies).
These were simple headline grabbers that usually involved setting up a single key photograph that the agency hoped to see in print the next day.
The trouble is, that’s easy to do (you don’t have to be a PR agency to set one of them up), but more importantly these days consumers demand a bit more than that. They want to be engaged, entertained, informed – they want ideas with a bit of depth.
And clients obviously agree. Asked by the Holmes Report “Which are the most important areas in which your PR firms need to improve their creative quality?”
A staggering 61% replied “Integrated ideas”.
Clients want joined-up creative thinking that works across a variety of media – that’s ideas with ‘creative stretch’. PR agencies are simply failing to deliver.
Why is that?
The reasons I’ve been offered include that too many senior people have never worked outside of PR and as such don’t appreciate the value of creativity; and the other being that they are simply not willing to invest in good creative people. It’s viewed as a ‘cost’.
Obviously it’s not all doom and gloom. A few agencies are excelling, and there’s some brilliant work that’s getting talked about. But given the size of the industry, there’s nowhere near enough.
If the Holmes Report’s ‘Creativity in PR Survey’ is the PR industry’s school report card, then teacher’s comments have gone from last year’s ‘could try harder’, to this year’s ‘must do better’.
Maybe it’s time for six-of-the-best…