Bringing Creative Thinking Into Content

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Recently, the San Francisco content team attended The Bold Italic’s The Sum Conference. The event brought design-oriented individuals into one place to share their experiences with creativity. The speakers ranged from self-taught dancers (YouTube sensation Karen X. Cheng) to Stanford University professors to artists (including Candy Chang, the mind behind the Before I Die project). Here are a few of the key lessons our team took away from the experience.

Creativity Starts with Comfort
One of the easiest ways to start down that road is to find an environment that you feel comfortable in. That means different things for different people. For example: Do loud noises distract you? Find a quiet spot to hide in. Or perhaps you prefer doing your writing in bed to sitting at a desk. Find out what works for you and embrace it.

In team settings, comfort is even more key. Brainstorming sessions may include some off-the-wall suggestions, so make sure you’re cultivating a positive environment that makes the entire team feel secure. Improv artist Lisa Rowland suggested banning the word “no” in meetings; instead, challenge your team to take seemingly impossible ideas and work them into something more feasible.

Getting Creative While Coloring Inside the Lines
Although we as content professionals may come to clients with new, creative ideas, more often, it’s the client coming to us with clear expectations of what the final product will be. When given rigid guidelines, it can be challenging to get in touch with your creative side. Still, there’s always ways to have fun with it.

Constraints can actually make you think creatively about a project if you allow yourself ample brainstorming time — on that note, never accept your first solution! The first idea is always the most basic, and it’s likely the same one other people have already thought of, too. If you want to be truly groundbreaking, force yourself think up at least 15 solutions. Whittle your list down to five, putting more thought into each of these than you did with the initial 15. It’s okay to start with crazy ideas, too. You may not find the best idea if you don’t let loose a bit — and you can always reign yourself in later.

Learning — and Playing! — as a Team
When working as a team, you rely on others to bring good ideas and contributions to the table. But make sure your team is truly a team! While it’s great to have team members with specialized experience, it’s also important to make sure that expertise is being spread around to help everyone. Host internal training sessions to bring the entire team up to speed, but don’t forget to have fun, too!

Acquiring new skills as a team — even in something that appears to be unrelated to your work — has the benefit of helping the team see things from a difference place while lowering walls between employees. Billy Klein, the creative director at Wired, suggested even purposely looking outside of your “day job” for teambuilding opportunities. By placing the whole team in an unfamiliar environment, it enables people to learn new skills without the pressure of deadlines and client expectations. An open, communicative, happy team is a team that’s going to create groundbreaking, creative projects.

At LaunchSquad, we’re all storytellers. On the content team, we work hand-in-hand with PR to get our clients’ amazing stories out in the world. By taking a minute to step back and reexamine how we think creatively, we’re able to tell these great narratives from new and refreshing perspectives.

Content/comms professional. Photographer. Runner. Wine, coffee & ice cream enthusiast. Opinions are my own.