3 ways you’re KILLING creativity in your Content Marketing

When it comes to Public Relations and Content Marketing, we all start out with the best of intentions. We envision ourselves looking at each new project with the creative flair that drew us to the industry in the first place.

But as deadlines loom, it can be tempting to take shortcuts. Here are some of the ways busy PR  and Content Marketing Managers cut corners, and kill creativity in the process.

Avoid these bad habits that are killing creativity in your department at all costs.

1. You’re overly focused on what your competitors are doing

Naturally, you’re going to be keeping an eye on trends in your industry, and know what your main competitors are up to. But when your Marketing or Public Relations team come to you with a new idea, and your first question is “How do our competitors do this?” you’re showing no confidence in your own team.

Look at the idea based on its merits. Defining whether an idea is good or not based on whether a competitor does it is lazy and demoralising; it shows a lack of faith in your people. A good idea is a good idea, whether your competitors are doing it yet or not.

Why are you waiting for your competitors to do it first, when you can and should be leading the way? Remember, Nokia played it safe while Apple took chances. Have courage in your convictions.

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2. You prefer routine and consistency to creative content marketing

“How did we do this last year?” is a question tired, overworked Marketing Managers often ask. It’s a shortcut. Hiding behind the dubious benefit of consistency, Corporate Communications teams pump out almost identical press releases year after year when announcing new product launches, annual results or awards wins.

How many global organisations have you seen do this?

  • Company X announces 110m first quarter profits
  • Company X announces 250m half-year profits
  • Company X announces 340m third quarter profits

It’s boring. No one wants to read it. It’s not even difficult to come up with something a bit more inspiring.

  • Company X boasts 15% profit increase after exciting first-quarter product launches
  • “This is just the beginning” says Company X CEO on 110m Q1 profits
  • Rapid expansion in the Americas sees Q1 profits of 110m for Company X

That’s your job. Let me say this again: It does not matter how you did it last year. Quit taking shortcuts and come up with something new that will get people talking.

Who cares how we approached this last year? That was then.

Would an infographic work better than that block of text? Is there an Influencer we can quote to give this press release greater reach? Can we do more to get this story told than push it on to news wires?

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3. You’ve asked 17 people to track their changes on the document

“Draft it, run it by me, I’ll give the SVP a look and then you just need the relevant department head and the legal team to get their thoughts. Then we can send it to the CEO, and could you copy my mother and my therapist on that too please?”

For major company announcements like your Annual Report, perhaps all these people truly need to be involved. But for most day-to-day PR activities, that’s way too many cooks spoiling the plot. The Legal team will tend to veto anything that breaks with the norm to be on the safe side, as will Compliance – even if it doesn’t go against any policies and procedures.

Department heads and SVPs will often start making changes just to feel involved, or as some kind of strange ego-trip (we’ve all seen it happen). Joe’s on annual leave this week, and Anne doesn’t work on Mondays, so now you need to push your release back by a week in order to get feedback you don’t accept.

Keep your approvals process as slimmed down as possible. Trust your employees not to do anything outrageous.

You hired the people on your team because of their expertise, their imagination, their ability to self-motivate – so give them the brief, then take a step back and watch the magic happen!

Do you agree? Leave a comment.

Don’t forget to connect with me on LinkedIn, or shoot me an email if you’ve got any questions.


 Katie Harrington is a Communications and Content Creator based in Dublin, Ireland. Her e-book, Strategic Communications: The Science Behind the Art launched in November 2016. Katie has worked with global brands including Accenture, EY, Emirates Airline, and Allianz, as well as in the Irish parliament and Qatar’s semi-government oil and gas company Nakilat. 

18 thoughts on “3 ways you’re KILLING creativity in your Content Marketing

  1. Ian Mac Eochagáin says:

    “Department heads and SVPs will often start making changes just to feel involved, or as some kind of strange ego-trip (we’ve all seen it happen).”

    So true. It really is all about trust, as you point out. Not only have you got to trust them to simply do their day-to-day job right, as you say here: you’ve also got to trust them to take risks, make mistakes and discover something new.

  2. Sabrina Barbante says:

    I recognise in what you have listed some attitudes of my past bosses! And you’re right because, as a creative resource, I was very frustrated by that. I’ll share this post with some of them 😉

  3. Eugenia says:

    So true. I think knowing your competitors and do the research before you start a new project is one of the most important steps in our crazy competitive world to come up then with something new and innovative. So each brand should find what makes it unique to stand out from the crowd. Every boss should remember there is no innovation without creativity. Killing creativity can be dangerous in business success.

  4. Vlad Vaida says:

    Oh yes! I’m guilty of comparing myself to my competitors. The struggle is real. However, I always have to remind myself to stop doing that and that’s when I get more creative and motivated. I also had a boss that dampen creative ideas and preferred a robot mindset lol.

  5. Rose Sahetapy says:

    Knowing what your competitors do is important, but the most important thing is focusing on your own ideas and work. This advice can also be implemented to manage our blog.

  6. Ana says:

    It totally depends on your bosses whether they are ready to welcome your creative ideas and implement for the growth of an organization or simply demotivating you for all your efforts.

  7. David says:

    Bosses really need to learn to encourage and support our creativity because it’s very much important for good work. We need to choose smart which job we take. Smart post, well needed.

  8. Joanette says:

    When it comes to urgent approvals for press releases or artwork for adverts I usually work with the CEO and one or two Senior Managers in the process, it really helps when you have a very responsive Management team, the work gets done faster.

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