“Fresh” is a great word. Everyone wants it. Bosses want fresh ideas, editors want a fresh set of eyes, diners want fresh food and hikers want fresh air. Where would Will Smith be today if he had started out as The Prince instead of The Fresh Prince?
Fresh is great because it’s the opposite of stale, and it’s amazing how fast things in life get stale. You may love a funny commercial the first time you see it, but the fiftieth time? Stale.
PR pros know how tough it is to keep ideas fresh. Constantly coming up with new angles for the same clients is one of the toughest challenges of the job. You can’t pitch reporters the same idea twice. In the social media world, the constant demand for new content will tax even the most creative individual’s originality.
At some point, you’re going to need to refresh their ideas, regardless of whether you’re working on annual reports, creative advertising or a Facebook status update. Here are some tips we use on a regular basis to keep our content fresh:
- Start with a blank slate: When ESPN was still in its early years, legendary producer Bill Fitts was one of the leaders who brought high standards to the young network. One of his strategies was to start with a blank slate on every show. He said you can’t rely on things that worked in the past, because they may not work in the future (more in Those Guys Have All the Fun). That’s great advice, and while it may be more time consuming to write a fresh press release instead of updating last year’s, it can make all the difference.
- Look at the story from your audience’s perspective: When you work in an industry or on an issue day in and day out, you become familiar with the ideas, the people and the jargon. For example, have you ever noticed how strange police sound when they address the media? They use phrasing and jargon that’s common among cops, but not the public at large. When you’re looking for a fresh idea, try changing your perspective to that of your target audience. Pretend you have never heard of this topic before, and figure out what would make it relevant and interesting.
- Make it timely: ‘Newsjacking’ is a new term for one of the oldest tricks in the book. Any time you can relate the topic at hand to a relevant news item, you’ve found a way to make it fresh. It could be a new study, a pop culture reference or something trending on Twitter. As long as it makes sense for your audience — and avoids sensitive topics — it’s usually a good idea.
Coming up with fresh material is an ongoing challenge, and these are just a few ideas. What are some techniques you use to keep things creative on the job?
Photo Credit: Brittney Bush Bollay