As a public relations professional, your livelihood depends on your creativity.
Oh, it depends on your ability to make and keep relationships with your media contacts, for sure. But you could do that from a phone booth (kids, ask your parents) and anywhere with a hotspot (parents, ask you kids).
But your creativity, your innovation, your ideas on every touchpoint in PR are your bread and butter. Yet in many respects we have been forced to move out of our element the past seven months. Many – all? – of us have had to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it has thrown many of us off. We’re used to a creative environment in the office, to be surrounded by our creature comforts and the ability to pick the brains of our colleagues simply by turning around in our chairs.
Much of that has been transported to home, sans the creature comforts and colleagues at the ready.
So how do we stay creative during the pandemic, especially in the face of dire warnings that the virus could come back even stronger in the colder months, forcing us to return to, or stay at, home?
* For starters, we are creatures of habits. We have routines. We keep to schedules. A lot of that becomes lax in a home environment so the first thing we suggest is to start your day as you normally would as if preparing to go to the office. That means getting up, taking a shower, shaving and getting dressed. And no we don't mean put on heels... but certainly something of an upgrade over sweats and T-shirt. Just the feeling alone will start creating a more ‘normal’ feel.
*Maybe some of us thought this would be temporary and set up "shop" at our dining table or cross legged on the sofa with a laptop on our laps. Obviously this is our "new normal" for the near future so invest in a space to work. A home office doesn't have to be an entire room - it can be a closet with a desk, it can be a work space in the garage. Just find in a separate space for yourself and spend a few $$ making it your own. A place where you can shut off the noise and get work done. Make it a project - Pinterest search "small office spaces" or "home office ideas". Get creative and you will find that the work in setting up the space will quickly pay for itself. Get a cork board - just for your "post-its" and torn pictures from a magazine of places you'd rather be. Change your background on your computer to a place you want to visit.
* Walk away. You can’t force creativity, and working from home creates a whole new environment. So don’t worry about being so strict to replicate the work environment at the office that you can’t get up for 15 minutes and grab a snack, something to drink, look out the window, whatever. Walking away from the computer and the phone sometimes breeds idea generation. Think about it – how many times have you been cooking dinner or, ahem, indisposed and you thought of something where you needed to write it down or send yourself an email?
*Spend an hour going through magazines, checking out your favorite blogs or online websites, listen to a short podcast - do not turn on the TV and watch politics all day. That alone will kill your creativity and probably all the plants in your house. Put some music on in the background to "keep you company".
* Practice, practice, practice. If the office isn’t the most comfortable place to work on your pitches to media contacts, home alone should be. Think of yourself as a photographer – just because they can’t be outside or on assignment doesn’t mean they’re not perfecting their craft.
* Speed brainstorming – try it. Yes, it’s like speed dating without the commitment but with all the creativity. Connect with your co-workers via Google Meet, set a time limit of 10 or 15 minutes and stick to it. Bat around ideas, exchange thoughts, make suggestions. It’s a good way to test those creative kills, much as you would get creative in the five minutes of speed dating. If nothing else do a quick Facetime with each other so you can "see people" and don't even talk "shop" - just talk "sanity".
* Think like you’re quarantined. Because, well, half the world is. Many firms and businesses are still working from home; thusly, many consumers are still at home. Be innovative in your creativity. With everything that is going on, and given those circumstances, nothing can be considered too outlandish.
Bottom line is don't go stir crazy, don't isolate, the creativity isn't dead - it's there - it just might be lost between trying to home school your kids and thinking about what's for dinner.