New ideas are hardly ever totally original; they are usually an extension of an existing concept. You can extract even more mileage from publicity campaigns by making existing concepts work harder for you. Here’s how to create more ideas for publicity campaigns.
Matrix publicity technique
UK consultant Andy Green in his book Creativity in Public Relations suggests using a matrix to extend publicity ideas. A matrix ensures you fully consider all the possible permutations when planning for a publicity concept. A matrix will form a valuable checklist to ensure you have thought of as many publicity opportunities as you can that are based on a particular event, especially when you are obliged to come up with ideas under time pressure, such as with a photo opportunity.
Listing of attributes to mark a particular landmark occasion
The purpose of the activities might be to commemorate moving into a new headquarters building, celebrate a significant anniversary of the company or some other company achievement.
Above image: from Strategic Public Relations book by Kim Harrison.
When you think about each combination of ideas in the matrix, you will most likely think of further ideas that extend the original concept.
For instance, a matrix can be used as follows if you have the task of arranging a pictorial opportunity, also known as a photocall, about the launch of a project.
The matrix would list down the left hand column the various ‘talents’ that could be used for the project, eg mayor, sports star, CEO/president, oldest employee, child, celebrity/VIP.
Across the page in this particular case would be 6 columns representing 6 types of actions that could apply to each ‘talent.’
The actions in this case could be tape-cutting, tree planting, plaque unveiling, gift presentation, handshake for photo, and using a prop or visual aid that could be used for the occasion.
Obviously you wouldn’t get each person to perform exactly the same action as the other people, but they could perform similar roles, say, in different locations, on different dates or with different audiences. The matrix would help to determine what they could each do without overlapping too much on each other. These ideas should help you to create more ideas for publicity campaigns.
Checklist (SCAMPER) technique for creative solutions
Another good idea is to use the simple SCAMPER checklist, which offers a series of change words compared with the current situation (Green, 2007). You consider the situation as it stands, and then think through the changes represented by the change words. For instance, for the first letter ‘S’ in SCAMPER, you might think of a substitute person, product or activity for a publicity opportunity additional to the original concept.
Modify (for example, make bigger, smaller, stronger, faster)
Put to other uses
The idea is to use the current situation as a starting point, then see if one of the action words can be used as a catalyst for changing the concept.
More about publicity
You can read more useful ideas in my article, “How to generate ‘street-smart’ publicity.”
Reference: Creativity in Public Relations, 3rd edition, by Andy Green.