Call me crazy. Please.

By Matter

I’d rather be called crazy than boring.

Sure, that could be applied to my personal life, but it’s something I’ve always said about client relations.  To me, there is nothing worse than having a client part ways because they felt like they were sold on creativity, only to be managed by a team that was okay with things being “status quo.”

In today’s world, status quo just doesn’t cut it.  Status quo isn’t going to get the attention of the reporters who are stretched too thin and are tasked with finding the stories that are impactful AND will drive click-throughs.  Status quo isn’t going to create evangelists for your brand.  Status quo isn’t going to drive enough sales to justify a significant PR spend.

When I saw this infographic on PR Newser (based on soon-to-be released research from the Horn Group and Kelton Research called The CMO Challenge) – the number that jumped out at me was that only 3% of CMOs felt like their agencies were leading the charge for innovation.  Three percent is a sad, sad number.

I have sat in a lot of brainstorming meetings in my career.  It’s probably my favorite part of this job.  And, in almost every one of them,  one or two crazy ideas surface.  Crazy ideas that are actually tied to a client/prospect’s business goals and/or objectives.  Crazy ideas that could help a company break away from the status quo pack and get some well-deserved attention. I have been part of pitch teams where I KNOW that the ideas are what sealed the deal.  I have pitched crazy ideas to many clients – and they are usually met with a twinge of excitement and a general appreciation that their PR partner is thinking about things differently.

To me, the biggest affront to my professional pride is to hear that we didn’t win a piece of business because our ideas “weren’t creative enough.” I know I can’t win them all, but I’d rather not participate if my team can’t — because they don’t have the time or the ability — deliver thinking that inspires the imagination and gets people excited. I hate to disagree with the popular axiom, but showing up IS NOT half the battle. A chimpanzee can show up.

Sure, it’s true that sometimes creative ideas don’t stand up to rigorous vetting against the goals of a business. Not all of them are going to be winners and, let’s face it, some of them turn out to be kind of nutty in retrospect.

But long-term clients of mine have told me time and again to “keep the crazy ideas coming.” They never ask for ideas that will maintain the status quo. Clients never urgently call me for ho-hum ideas.

So I’m okay with crazy.  I’ll never be okay with boring, and you shouldn’t be either.