Working in public relations requires communication professionals to be process-driven, ensuring an efficient public relations workflow, staying current with news updates and industry movements, and manage the multiple moving parts of the communications plan to deliver value to clients. However, unlike other industries, working in public relations requires one to switch modes from being process-driven to creative, sometimes several times a day.
We asked the youngest members of the PRecious Communications team on what they do to focus on process-oriented tasks and what helps them to get their creative juices flowing.
It’s a combination of an assembly line and making rainbows
When I think of process-oriented tasks, I see an assembly line. I break them down into smaller parts where each is a checkpoint towards the finishing line. Since these are often repeated, I create templates of checklists and documents that can be reused. I find Trello to be instrumental in helping me achieve this.
The creative process is like making a rainbow. I rain down my thoughts on a document, clear the dark clouds of “messy ideas” and use the “grammar” sun to bring out the rainbow of an idea. Given that this is focus heavy, I would block out my calendar and turn off notifications. I also find a better flow when brainstorming with a pen and paper.
Contributed by Azrin Hamdan, Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
Finding the right balance between task management and creativity is important
Having worked at Precious for just under two months, I have gotten a feel of how fast-paced this industry can get. Before the circuit breaker, a simple checklist may seem to have been sufficient to go about my daily tasks. A more reliable way, I realise, is to set reminders on my personal calendar that notifies me as the next task looms. Post-it notes sometimes come in handy as well.
While we go about completing our process-driven tasks, we must keep aside time to engage in activities that are relaxing, which I feel help with creativity. As a person who frequently works with numbers, the aid of visuals helps trigger the right side of the brain. At times, a short nap also proves beneficial as ideas strike while resting. It’s essential to balance process-oriented as well as creative tasks and not dwell on one aspect.
Contributed by Bhavaani – Finance Executive, PRecious Communications
The power of incorporating what you love into how you work
An environment where everything happens in a very fast-paced timeline demands us to be adaptable and agile in every step of the way. However, working from home has changed everything. Every morning, I always create my notes to plan my day, while sipping my favourite cappuccino to help me in keeping my performance on the track. Of course, there are always a few unplanned challenges that might hinder the plan a bit, but that’s when teamwork becomes more relevant in the process. When it comes to the creative aspect of my work, I turn to music whenever I am stuck, need inspiration or just to escape from the monotony. I’m very passionate about music and merely putting my headset on gets my creativity to flow.
Contributed by Debra Johannes – Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
Consistency, perseverance, sharing and brainstorming will get you everywhere
Working on process-oriented tasks has taught me the importance of consistency and perseverance. For me, I try to pace myself when I am performing process-oriented tasks, by first starting with the most urgent task at hand, and then following up with the least urgent task. The sense of urgency drives me to stay focused on my assignments.
As for creativity, we often expect ourselves to come up with the perfect idea and hardly give ourselves space for mistakes and exploration. Yet in PRecious, I have been reminded again of the paramount importance of brainstorming with others. Through the sharing of ideas, different perspectives are brought to the table, and that is where creativity flows.
Contributed by Grace – Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
Short breaks and alone time can work wonders for your creativity
On the process-oriented front, I find that following a plan and setting priorities helps a lot. As professionals, flexibility in the team is essential in responding to a change in the client’s needs with the volatile economy and media consumption. I find that weekly team alignment and progress charts help with this focus.
The digital age has brought numerous possibilities for innovative PR. It is therefore vital to think beyond what one perceives to be able to cut through the noise. To get the creativity flowing, I find that being proactive and brainstorming ideas with my team regularly helps. I keep a personal journal next to me, and when spontaneous ideas pop in, I quickly jot them down and share it with my team to expand on it. Otherwise, taking a short media break allows my mind to rest. Being alone with your thoughts for a while may just surprise you with the flow of ideas that comes to your mind!
Contributed by Jazin Wee, Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
Creating a priority list and clearing urgent tasks help
This is an apt question. For someone who is much more creative than I am process-driven, having to switch continually has been daunting as it forces me to put my feet on the ground and focus on a particular assignment. For process-driven tasks, I create a priority list, with the most important tasks being the ones I engage in first. As much as I detest routine, this provides me with a much-needed structure. I can now meet deadlines and deliver my best without flitting around too much in my headspace.
That being said, I value my creativity a lot because that is an integral part of me. To stimulate my creativity and keep myself sane on many levels, I sneak in reading during small breaks I have during the day, writing out specific ideas and topics that come to me in the spur of the moment. I have my currently reading book with me always as motivation, and it has inspired me to handle hiccups and keep me focused.
S Priyashini, Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
It’s all about creating the right environment
Creating a public relations strategy and building proposals for potential clients is a prime example of why we need to switch modes always. The foundation of a plan is the process-driven part, which is to come up with the key messages, industry insights and traditional PR movements, among others. However, it is creativity which takes us over the finish line and helps create an impactful communications plan for a prospect.
There are times when I am against a massive wall because of a mental block. I overcome this by creating an environment for myself that goes with the current mode that I am facing. Creativity stems from a happy environment while completing process-driven tasks require a productive environment. A change of workstation, clothing, or brainstorming with the team does wonders.
Rinaka Gustavano, Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
Taking things one thing at a time
When tackling a process-driven task, what has worked for me is approaching it one task at a time. With my full focus on the task at hand, I can work efficiently without getting overwhelmed. However, process-driven tasks can get monotonous, so to make things a little exciting, I slot in creative work in between tasks to keep myself motivated.
During the lockdown, what proved to be successful in keeping my creative juices flowing was to find ways to keep myself stimulated. Such is changing my workspace from time to time. Also, thanks to the internet, I can jump on quick calls with my team members or scour the internet for ideas. By taking full advantage of the situation, I found that taking power naps and snack breaks have helped to keep myself awake and energised throughout the day.
Contributed by Thiviya Sri, Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
Being process-oriented and creative are not exact opposites
A process-oriented task requires systematic thinking, so I like to train myself to think in clear bullet points on how to achieve my goal. It involves walking myself through every step of what I need to do. This way, I know if I’m unclear about anything or missing certain information. Helpful tools when work gets hectic include jotting down task outlines and having templates to follow on-hand.
In a sense, I don’t think being process-oriented and creative are exact opposites. Creativity often flourishes with proper direction and without control, is an agent of chaos. To me, it’s also important to visualise how I want to express myself, to play around with different scenarios and pathways. If I hit a dead-end, I like to go back to the fundamental checklist of my goals and use it to guide my whimsies.
Contributed by Tisha Martinez, Junior Client Executive, PRecious Communications
A tracker helps with process-driven as well as creative tasks
I’ve had my toes dipped in the shallow end of the PR industry pool for a little over a month and, on most days, I know what to expect and handle it with a good pace. On some days, it gets a little more fast-paced, and I need to ensure that deadlines are not missed when I am assisting several team leaders with numerous tasks.
Things get heated up when something urgent comes up, and I need to drop everything else, the plan goes out of the window. I find having a task-tracker – an excel sheet with a description of tasks, deadline, priority and progress -tremendously helpful! It helps me not only to prioritise tasks but understand the importance and degree of urgency. In terms of creativity, I find being on both ends of the process; creation and receiving, very helpful.
An example is Southeast Asia Connect with North Ridge Partners. In this fortnightly webinar series, I learn and understand from the creative side but also listen in as a participant during the webinar. This helps me better understand the webinar and give better feedback on what works and how we can improve during the debrief.
Contributed by Han, Junior Business Development Executive, PRecious Communications
Do the best you can until you know better
As an Admin of Precious, I am required to be on my toes at all times. Apart from doing daily routines, I am also required to do on-demand tasks. Creating a task list and calendar reminders are great ways that I use to avoid overwhelming myself. When it comes to on-demand requests, what works best for me is to assist the task as and when required. This helps me in working efficiently and effectively.
Different people have different ways of getting their creative juices flowing. Mine is particular, is to have a natural break. Getting outside to have a change of scenery, a whiff of fresh air is always a way that helps me recollect myself, and this gets my creative ideas flowing.
With all that said, I would like to leave you with a quote by Maya Angelou – “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Contributed by Yoon, Admin Intern, PRecious Communications
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