Matter Chatter

I almost forgot. Eight heads are better than one.

Last week I was reminded of the real benefits of a very simple PR tool– one that we’ve all used in many shapes and forms: brainstorming. Sure, sure, we’ve all read about, talked about and participated in brainstorming, likely many times in our lives; but how often do we really sit down for a good, old-fashioned brainstorming session? It’s all too easy to let this type of creative collaboration go by the wayside, as we keep up with our day-to-day tasks and whittle away at our to-do lists.

Last week, though, the Providence office, along with a colleague from our Newburyport office, scheduled some time to chat about campaign and pitch ideas for one of our clients. Sure enough, one person’s idea led to another’s idea, which led to a third’s completely different idea. Eight PR pros and 30 minutes later, we’d filled a couple pages with smart, compelling and realistic ideas the account team can share with its client and use in its 2010 plans. Not only did our brainstorming session spur some great and needed PR program suggestions, it was also a great team building activity and wonderful reminder (not that I needed one!) of how truly creative, intelligent and helpful my colleagues are.

So how do you brainstorm? Here’s a short list of tips that I find useful and that have proved successful in our office:

1. Schedule the time. That’s right, put it on your (and your colleagues’) calendar. Even when I brainstorm on my own, I still find it useful to set aside a specific time. Whether it’s for 15 minutes after lunch or while I’m driving home from the office, it’s dedicated time to let your thoughts evolve that often results in the most creativity.

2. Include colleagues from other client teams who can offer a fresh perspective. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you’ve been working on the same project for a long time; often those who are unfamiliar with your client or program can spark the ideas that get you moving in the right direction.

3. Decide on a specific topic for your brainstorm session and stay as focused as possible. There’s no need to tackle a mountain of topics in one session.

4. And, of course, keep the golden rule of brainstorming in mind: there are no bad ideas.

What tips do you have for a productive brainstorming session? And in what other ways do you foster creativity and fresh thinking in your office?