Ad hero, Emu & You: Stretching Creativity
You can’t blame an advertising major for wanting to quote an ad giant.
At some point in my educational career, I was told the quote, “To be interesting, you must first be interested.” I’ve always attributed the spark of brilliance to James Webb Young, an ad hero and author of the essential guide, A Technique for Producing Ideas. True or not, it sounds like something he’d say.
In his book, Young talks about great creative people being intrigued by the world around them. How great visionaries seek out random info about a variety of topics. Are you curious about hairless emus? Then read about them. Do you want to be able to name significant Roman generals? Study ancient battles. (Or sleep with the history channel blaring in the background) Young encourages people to delve deeply into areas that may not seem relevant to what they do. Why? Because a wide knowledge enables engaged, inquisitive people to see relationships that others might not. For example, the creative team who wrote this ad took two completely separate objects—a vacuum and a plane—recognized a connection, and perfectly communicated the message.
What does this have to do with PR?
PR is the work of relationships. Publicists to media contacts, authors to audiences, authors to media, the combinations are endless. What if instead of seeing possibilities through objects, we saw possibilities through people? Authors should stretch their bounds in terms of who they are having conversations with.
Fellow Twitter-ers, have you ever had that moment where you are on the page of a new follower and you’re scanning their Tweets, evaluating as you read? I do. I’ll admit it. I go through and think, is this relevant to me? What if instead of asking ourselves if it’s relevant, we open ourselves to the new knowledge we might gain? Even if it’s out of our normal realm of Tweets.
To be interesting, you must first be interested.
In our media training, we talk about social media in terms of involvement. Participation. Being interested not in who is following you, but interested in those you follow.
Let’s step outside of social media. Authors should stretch themselves in how they position their books. See the unexpected relationships. Who can you talk to? Who can you get to listen to your book outside of your initially chosen audience? Where can you read? What cause/group can you connect with that will greater push the distribution of your message?
Example: If you wrote a children’s story about a lost mitten, go read while organizing a clothes drive.
I recently attended an Austin Association for Women in Communication’s luncheon. In a discussion on leadership, the speaker used a word I wasn’t expecting. Service. Authors, consider these questions. How can you demonstrate that your book cares about someone else & is cognizant of someone else’s issues? How does your book engage in your community? Is it based on your hometown? Is it about a group of people you met in your community? How do you and your book serve?
Don’t just entertain. Listen. Respond. Help. This is advice we should all heed, myself included. After all, as JWY may or may not have said, “To be interesting, you first must be interested."