6 reasons your creativity is zapped—and how to fix it

If your comms team is in the doldrums, don’t despair. Here’s how to sail out of mediocre project efforts with renewed energy, hope and inspiration.

One thing I love about PR is its creative energy: New approaches, cool ideas and interesting stories colleagues bring to meetings make this business exciting.

However, sometimes you suffer a drought. Everyone is a little quiet and people just go through the motions. Pitched stories are tired and proposed angles boring. Everything is a little blah.

Creative funks happen for many reasons. Here are a few—paired with suggestions to snap out of them:

1. You’re stuck in the routine.

Sometimes the daily grind gets to us. People get caught up in strategy, research, pitching, writing, posting, monitoring and repeating. They forget that they must venture outside the content machine to find new ideas—and more importantly, to keep their sanity.

Snap out of it: Organize outings or activities to get people out of the office. Whether it’s for a walk or to grab a coffee, a distraction can get the creative juices flowing.

2. It’s an old-school PR workplace.

Not everyone in PR works at a Fortune 500 company or a hotshot ad agency. Many content teams work for non-profits, government and industries that don’t use best practices in content marketing.

In this environment, your team members might have new ideas, but the context, budget or resources won’t allow these to bear fruit.

Snap out of it: Though you can’t change your culture overnight, find projects that give your team a creative outlet. Challenge them to find other ways of covering usual topics or formatting their pieces. Give them chances to research and pitch new ideas to senior management.

3. There’s a lack of teamwork.

Although we work in a collaborative field, we can isolate ourselves and forget to use a most valuable resource—our colleagues. We might think we’re more productive, but we’re really spinning our wheels.

Snap out of it: Plan brainstorming sessions where people tell what they’re working on. Share ideas on content, angles, formats, photos, etc. and encourage discussion. Ensure that all team members participate and that these sessions don’t turn into administrative discussions.

4. You push bad content.

Content marketers hate producing puff pieces we know no one will look at. They yield poor results. Often internal politics force us to produce this content. Writing corporate-speak makes creative pros feel like they are losing their edge.

Snap out of it: Find the hidden story. It may be difficult, but many times you can uncover something interesting about the corporate retreat, CSR report or pancake breakfast. Encourage employees to talk to the people involved. Find an angle that adds substance to a corporate announcement.

5. The results fall short.

When we put effort into a story or project that doesn’t yield results, our motivation takes a hit. We doubt ourselves. Our creativity suffers.

Snap out of it: Everyone goes through this, but sometimes it hits a little harder. Help team members by using their doubt. Look at what did not work and why. Map a plan for next time.

6. There’s too much ( or not enough) competition.

Moderate competition in the workplace is healthy, but it’s not easy to achieve a balance.

Some PR pros work on teams where there’s a lot of die-hard competition. This can be toxic. At the other end is a lack of friendly competition, which can cause complacency.

Snap out of it: Foster friendly competition by urging people to aim high. You’ll get better results and will motivate people. Make sure employees know their work is vital to your success by helping them set goals. Nurture a collaborative culture by showing how each individual’s contribution and their combined efforts lead to the best results. Celebrate victories along the way.

Creativity is crucial to what we do. How do you take time to nurture it?

Maria Scopelliti is a communications advisor at the University of Ottawa. You can connect with her at mariascope.com.

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