Many successful PR and marketing campaigns have started with a simple creative brainstorm. Yet, we’re always searching for better and more productive ways to develop great ideas. What many PR pros and others don’t always realize is that every concept doesn’t have to be groundbreaking. Some of the best creative sessions produce a small germ of an idea, a new phrase, or a fresh twist on the ordinary. Look at the most recent promotion from Lowe’s, the home center retailer. #lowesfixinsix centers on a series of Vine videos demonstrating cool home improvement tips. Business Insider calls it, “one of the best uses of the social medium as a marketing tool we’ve seen yet.”
Here are some pointers that have worked for us.
Create a positive atmosphere. Some people associate office meetings with stress or pressure to be brilliant. The best creative sessions feature a positive, welcoming, and humorous atmosphere. It helps to start with a warmup like, “How would we launch this product on the moon?” Responses to such absurd challenges can never be wrong, and they’re likely to be funny. Above all, don’t make judgments on any of the ideas floated.
Set some goals. Brainstorms can work well when wide latitude is given for generating ideas, but keep the end goals in mind. Make sure your team is prepared with all the background, and be clear in what the brainstorm is trying to achieve.
Let the fun begin. Once people start shouting out suggestions or solutions, write them down… all of them. Even though some ideas won’t make sense at the time, they may lead to other things. The best ideas often stem from a simple concept or phrase.
Change it up. During a given session, there is typically a time where the enthusiasm wanes and everybody falls into a slightly awkward silence. Sometimes rewording the initial objective or goal is all you need to get a response. Or, if you’re the moderator, have some thoughts in your back pocket to get the juices flowing again. If that doesn’t work, try taking a break and cover an ancillary aspect of the situation. Candy is often helpful.
Try speed-storming. A takeoff on speed dating, this can work as an ice-breaker, or it can help reset the situation to keep ideas flowing. Set a time limit of ten minutes, go around the room, and ask everyone to shout their best ideas. It’s okay if it deteriorates into free association or jokes; what you want is to get rid of blocks.
Never stop brainstorming. Even when the meeting is over and everyone has returned to their desks, create an email chain, or a running word document with the top ideas that are really fleshed out. Work them out with greater details and graphics to ensure the best result.
Have any brainstorms for more successful brainstorming? Let us know.
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