Analysis spotlights need for greater public engagement in creative process

Analysis spotlights need for greater public engagement in creative process


New research published by Ketchum in conjunction with Fast Company is a klaxon for dissent and diversity as part of the creative process in public relations. The European Referendum and US election spotlighted a failure by marketing, public affairs, and public relations practitioners to engage with broader publics. Filter bubbles reinforced existing opinions.

It’s an issue that we were keen to investigate at Ketchum in the lead up to this year's Cannes Festival of Creativity.

We worked with Fast Company to explore the attitude of 500 creative professionals. We wanted to understand their unconscious bias, insularity and sources of creative inspiration.

The results should challenge everyone working in a creative profession.

Engaging with publics as part of the creative process

Half (54 percent) admitted working in echo chambers. Most blame conversations with peers that confirm and align with their beliefs and assumptions (91 percent).

It gets worse. Creative professionals are not engaging with their intended audience in the creation and development of ideas.

Only nine percent of creative professionals always engage with their intended audience when developing a campaign. 48 percent never do.

“With crowdsourcing so easy, and multicultural opinions so accessible, this finding was possibly the most surprising,” said Karen Strauss, partner and chief strategy and creativity officer, Ketchum.

The Creative Echo Chamber survey, published at Cannes Lions International Festival, uncovered a creativity chasm.

71 percent of respondents say diversity of thought is valued by their organisations while 85 percent believe organisations must do more to encourage a diversity of ideas.

Popping the filter bubble

To break free of echo chambers, respondents say it is most important to interact with people who challenge their beliefs and assumptions (95 percent) and learn about cultures that challenge their beliefs and assumptions (94 percent).

Work experience (70 percent) and personal experience (61 percent) matter most in choosing ideas.

Race and gender are on the bottom of the list of variables that impact how creative ideas are developed and chosen, with personal experience (87 percent) topping the list in shaping creative ideas.

Participants offered concrete suggestions for diversifying creative talent and opinions within organisations.

Recommendations most often cited were to make diversity hiring goals more explicit; end nepotism, cronyism and referral-based hiring; hire for curiosity over experience; hire from outside the industry; recruit internationally; eliminate insider jargon from employment ads; and increase blind hiring practices.

“This analysis is a wake-up call,” said Karen Strauss.

The effect social media has had on limiting interactions with people who disagree with us and filtering information so it confirms existing views extends to our creative process.

“These findings underscore the need to seek and embrace dissent to break free of conformity and group think.”

You know where to come if you want to be challenged to break out of your creative bubble or echo chamber.

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