Creativity in Public Relations: Part 1

In PR, we constantly look for ways to earn the media’s attention. And that calls for creative methods in ways that differ from advertising’s definition and execution of creativity. This is particularly more useful in B2B technology PR where it is assumed that, unlike other industries like entertainment or sports where getting the media’s attention is far easier, it is that much more difficult because of the complexities of the concepts involved.

For example, Mindtree famously used a very clever, topical and relevant photo to get into print in December 2005 for their announcement on a new analog integrated circuit (IC) with intelligent charging capabilities for Lithium-ion batteries. Now, this news about a chip is business-as-usual and even for a press conference, they would, at best, get 1-2 small columns worth of print coverage.

How they chose to get a far wider coverage is where the PR smarts were. They chose to depict the chip in a truly innovative way, to demonstrate its size. They put the chip on the bindi and that bindi was on the forehead of a woman. So, in one picture, they chose to depict the designed-in-India angle + the chip’s size.

Source: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Understandably, the photo went places, in Indian media and global media, giving Mindtree’s news far wider reach than without that photo. Most print newspapers in India published this photo on the front page, unlike non-photo-opportunity news that may have been relegated to the business news pages.

The idea that the chip was small enough to fit into a bindi was put forth by Mindtree’s co-founder Subroto Bagchi. That thought was converted into a PR-able idea by Mindtree’s PR agency at that time, brand-comm.

Another good example like this in the Indian PR world involves NASSCOM, Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the late NASSCOM head, Dewang Mehta. In a fantastic media opportunity handled by the PR agency Text 100 (now called Archetype), Dewang Mehta walked into Nehru Place, one of India’s—and Delhi’s—top places for pirated software, and got many pirated software CDs crushed under the elephant’s feet!

Source: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images
Source: JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images

It was a phenomenal photo opportunity that communicated NASSCOM’s anti-piracy drive so eloquently.

Like the bindi photo-opportunity from Mindtree, this one had a distinctive India angle (the elephant) and that was used to send a message about the anti-piracy drive.

I’m not very sure about the period when this happened, but as far as I recall, this was in the late 1990s or very early 2000s – most probably 2001, if I’m not mistaken.

This photo went places too… in a great sign of creative PR executed well.

And remember: both these PR opportunities did not involve celebrities, and yet their photos went globally viral because of the power of the story they conveyed.

Who said PR cannot be a creative function?

There is also a Part 2 to this post on PR and creativity.

That, tomorrow!

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