working with creatives a PR Pro's GuideBy Patrick Walsh

Whether on your PR team, or as outside consultants, working with creatives is a necessary part of any PR pro’s job.

But it doesn’t have to be a necessary evil.

From the design team’s perspective, the PR department is typically regarded as an analytical, not-so-creative industry. But now, the ability to encourage and foster creativity is fast becoming one of the most valuable and desirable characteristics of sought-after PR professionals.

Here are four tips every PR pro should follow when working with creatives, to develop a mutually beneficial relationship.

Be Brave, but Not Reckless

Bravery is the fuel that propels creativity.

If you’re too afraid to try something new, or your designers are too afraid of the repercussions of exploring some of their whims, you’re doomed to a future of less-than-impressive results.

If your creatives love what they do, chances are you’ll love what they do, too.

It’s important when working with creatives you nurture the innovative, outside-the-box spirit in your designers.

Of course, the necessity of right-brain creativity doesn’t diminish the need for left-brain logic.

Learn how to strike the right balance between magic and logic. You want to give your creatives the chance to spread their wings but have the ability to steer the team in the right direction when things get off-track.

Use data and analytics to guide projects, but incorporate new, sophisticated tools to bolster your story.

That’s the recipe for creativity to flourish.

Get Specific with Your Feedback 

“Make it pop” is possibly the top contender for “Most Hated Phrase” in a designer’s world.


Because it doesn’t really mean anything actionable.

As a PR pro, you need to know how to articulate the changes you want to see in a project and why.

“Make it pop” means something different to everyone, so providing that kind of feedback is incredibly frustrating—for you, when you don’t see the changes you expect, and for the designer, who doesn’t know how to make the project reflect what you envision.

And remember, learning to give constructive and actionable feedback is a necessary skill for any type of human interaction, not just when working with creatives.

Stand Up for Yourself, Your Team, and Your Work

If you’ve built the right creative team, you know exactly the role each member plays.

Inform your decisions and speak up if you think things are going in the wrong direction, but defer to the judgment of the experts you selected.

As much as you need to stand up for yourself, you also have to learn to pick your battles.

If you think the logo should be blue because you just don’t like green, maybe you should leave it to the designers’ discretion.

However, if you think the logo needs to be blue because you have solid data showing that your audience responds better to blue, then stand firm.

As a PR pro, knowing how to strike that balance when working with creatives is an invaluable skill.

Working with Creatives Requires Relationships

If you want a truly successful, fruitful relationship when working with creatives, you can’t spend all your time focused solely on the next draft you need to write or deliverable you need to…well, deliver.

One of the most overlooked skills separating the PR pros from the amateurs is the ability to build and nurture relationships.

As a PR pro, you act as the intersection between dozens of audiences—media, internal teams and departments, influencers, and external stakeholders.

You connect and inspire communities.

What does this mean for working with creatives?

Taking time to understand where your creative counterparts are coming from should be a priority. By making this a focus you will build relationships beyond just working on the deliverables at hand, which will prove to be much more fruitful moving forward.

If you use these tips as a guide, you’ll be well on your way to enhancing the way you work with your creative counterparts. 

What tips on successfully working with creatives would you add to this list?

Image from pixabay

Patrick Walsh

Vice president of design at Tonic Design Co., Patrick Walsh has dedicated the past 20 years to the creation of a better human experience through more meaningful, natural technology. His specialties include design management, brand management, design research, and building and nurturing multi-disciplinary design teams.

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