increase your productivity in PR brainstorming

7 Essential Tips to Increase Productivity in PR Brainstorming Sessions

PR is an exhausting field to work in, creatively speaking. As a communication professional, you’re caught between the dry, demanding needs of business KPIs and deadlines on the one hand and the intense, boundless freedom of artistic imagination on the other hand. PR is also demanding because, in practical terms, it requires all-rounders. For instance, marketing and advertising firms employ specialist creative staff; in PR, we generally have to do all creative work ourselves. Some great tips in this article will help you and your team to increase your productivity in PR brainstorming sessions.

Creating PR campaigns that combine effectiveness with creativity can be a challenge, especially when you need to do so repeatedly. If you’re in PR, here are a few tips to keep that creativity flowing, especially when you sit down to engage in the most free-flowing activity of them all: brainstorming sessions.

7 tips to increase your productivity in PR brainstorming

1. Create an unstructured structure

Brainstorming sessions are famously open-ended. But that doesn’t mean they should be left to wander in just any direction. When that happens, sooner or later, you’re bound to end up discussing topics that have nothing to do with your goal.

With that in mind, always go into a brainstorming session with a quiet-yet-firm hand on the tiller. Don’t be afraid to set criteria and boundaries. Steer the direction of the conversation toward topics that you feel are beneficial.

As you do so, make sure to adopt a “yes, and” mindset, not a “yes, but” mindset. In other words, don’t discourage or shoot down ideas. That’s a no-go in brainstorming. Instead, encourage existing ideas as you slowly redirect the focus toward topics and questions that are more pertinent to your objectives.

2. Give your team notice of upcoming sessions

Brainstorming sessions may be off the cuff, but that doesn’t mean they must also be impromptu. On the contrary, giving your team a heads-up about an upcoming creative meeting is often a good idea.

This gives them a chance to incubate and mull over the topic of discussion and can get the creative juices flowing on an individual level long before those thoughts need to be vocalized. They need time to process, refine, and detail an idea before it sees the light of day.

3. Assign light homework

Letting your team know about a meeting beforehand also provides the opportunity to assign a little light homework. This should be done carefully, as you don’t want to overly influence an upcoming meeting.

Nevertheless, an open-ended homework assignment can help set the stage and increase the productivity of your brainstorming.

For instance, if you’re going to conceptualize how to create a new internal business system, show your team how McDonald’s has used systems to create a sustainable business model. Then challenge them to come to the meeting with their own example of previous systematic success. This will spark thoughtful research that you can benefit from in your upcoming meeting.

4. Use impromptu sessions strategically

While structure and forethought are helpful, there are times when an impromptu brainstorming session is appropriate. For instance, if you find your team is waiting for your top management or a client to make a major business decision involving your function, use the free time to step aside as a group. Make a reservation at a local restaurant or place where you won’t be interrupted, and then use that time to help process and explore different ideas about your trip.

Impromptu brainstorming sessions can be disruptive if they’re interrupting normal schedules. However, if you are aware of potential pre-existing downtime, taking advantage of it on the fly to stoke your team’s creativity — especially if you’re in a unique environment — can be a great way to improve your team’s.productivity in PR brainstorming.

5. Unplug as you go

The ability to focus is a critical part of any successful brainstorming activity. If a person is distracted by other thoughts and responsibilities, it will negatively influence their ability to think creatively.

Finding ways to unplug during a brainstorming session can help overcome the focus issue. Rather than having your staff step 10 feet away from their desks to meet in a nearby conference room, pick a place further away from their normal work haunts. You can even go on a walk or visit a local park to really disconnect. Have your staff turn off notifications, too.

Unplugging is a great way to ensure that you get your team’s entire focus. It allows each person to fully concentrate on the creative process at hand.

6. Take your team’s strengths into account

It’s hard to be creative on demand. While that’s part of the PR schtick, it doesn’t mean you have to accept it as an inevitable part of all aspects of a business.

When it comes to brainstorming, in particular, it’s worth investing some effort into planning your sessions around your team’s strengths. For example, look for the most creative time of day for your team to meet. If you’re looking for an average, that’s probably between 9-11 a.m.

However, don’t be afraid to ask your team for input. When are they individually the most effective? See if there’s a consensus. Focusing on your team’s creative strengths is one of the easiest ways to maximize their collectively productive efforts.

7. Persistence produces the best results

Most people assume that top, inventive ideas bubble to the surface early in brainstorming sessions when you are freshest. But research published in 2020 found this is wrong. Creativity doesn’t drop away over time; it actually increases as you brainstorm. Many people confuse creativity with the ease of generating ideas. For many of us, early ideas come quickly. In contrast, later ideas are harder to find: “Our best ideas are there. They just require more digging,” says Loran Nordgren, Professor of Management at Northwestern University in Chicago, who conducted the research, “If you’re struggling, keep going.”


Many elements go into a good brainstorming session. Structure, freedom, environment, personal creative rhythms, and many other factors play a part. Taking the time to invest in how you do your brainstorming is critical if you want to get the most out of every session. This will help you to increase your productivity in PR brainstorming sessions.

Kim Harrison

Kim J. Harrison has authored, edited, coordinated, produced and published the material in the articles and ebooks on this website. He brings his experience in professional communication and business management to provide helpful insights to readers around the world. As he has progressed through his wide-ranging career, his roles have included corporate affairs management; PR consulting; authoring many articles, books and ebooks; running a university PR course; and business management. Kim has received several international media relations awards and a website award. He has been quoted in The New York Times and various other news media, and has held elected positions with his State and National PR Institutes.

Content Authenticity Statement. AI is not knowingly used in the writing or editing of any content, including images, in these newsletters, articles or ebooks. If AI-produced content is contained in any published form in future, this will be reported to readers.

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