London College of Communication opened its doors to students and the PR industry for its final PR Guest Lecture earlier this month. Jackie Cooper, Global Chair of Creative Strategy at Edelman PR, the largest PR agency on the planet, delivered a fascinating lecture on the importance of creativity. BA (Hons) Public Relations student Aaron Shardey reports.
Jackie began her career working in a small office managing a doll’s-eye switchboard. Having such a small role with important duties enabled her to understand the importance of communication, thus giving her the foundations to develop her career to the point she has reached today.
Small agencies are not always the best employers but Jackie stressed that they are extremely important for PR practitioners as you get ‘thrown in the deep end’ with laborious tasks and often boring clients. It is with these ‘boring clients’ that you earn your stripes, as they require you to be creative and think outside the box rather than doing the obvious thing.
Communication is vital in Public Relations; you literally need to tell everyone everything 100 times in order for them to listen. Repetition is important, interesting repetition is crucial, and when creating interesting repetition you need to go against the flow and understand that there is nothing wrong with getting yourself noticed by thinking outside the box. Creativity is becoming an increasingly important aspect of a PR professional’s work because of how much information is out there and how much competition there is between brands and their competitors.
Founder of Jackie Cooper PR, Jackie began realising the differences between freelancing and working with an agency. The main thing was the importance of creativity in PR, and she stated that to be creative you need:
- Human Truth
- Cultural Relevance
Having these qualities enables an individual to achieve their maximum potential. Jackie Cooper PR began expanding on a massive scale, their client numbers were constantly on the up and it was here when Edelman made their move. Working with Edelman, Cooper began understanding more about fans and stated fans. Influencers are key to brand but it is fans who are responsible for building and breaking brands – therefore reminding fans why they love the brand is important. However, if this backfires and fans begin to break your brand and you find yourself in a crisis, you need to go to the advocates of the crisis, the supporters, and more importantly find those who started the message.
Jackie Cooper has an amazing CV, working with clients ranging from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who she was responsible for bringing to the UK, and the latest Xbox, launched in Leicester Square. She has learnt that working with global agencies makes for a fascinating career as you are able to watch rapid changes in technology, watch your brands grow and reach out to the masses.
Finally, we were given some important advice:
- Content! Know about your content – anything that you can put on a platform and share. It is engaging people that is the key.
- Transparency is vital – protect your clients and protect your clients’ competitors.
- Chop the PR fudge cake. The media is like a cake and the traditional way is to look at each slice, but we now have to not only look at the slices but the layers, the different angles and the layout.
- Think of the media first rather than your story.
- We need to remember that in today’s society, people are the most effective communication channel. Lots of micro will make the mass.
And if you ever find yourself in the waiting room for an interview at Edelman, remember:
- Be prepared.
- Focus on showing your understanding of PR today and tomorrow.
- Show that you have the ability to translate complicated information across a variety of industries.
- Be yourself!
Words by student Aaron Shardey.
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