How important is creativity?
It's a question few people have stopped to consider, least of all the people who commission creatives for projects across the board, but it is an important one – which creatives themselves need to get to grips with.
Let's take a moment to identify the importance of creativity.
Where would we be if all architecture was scripted by mathematicians for example? The finest architectural triumphs in the world, from Emperor Justinian's jaw-dropping church of the Hagia Sofia in Istanbul, to Philipe Starck's Nani Nani in Tokyo and the Great Pyramid in Giza. Each were driven by a design mandate rather than what the academics thought physically possible.
The ethos of creatives is to make it happen, to not compromise, to create something truly masterful - each and every time. If the idea is there – the reality will follow and the technologists will rise to the challenge of delivering this great work. That's what makes creatives true achievers, the refusal to compromise a vision.
Look at public relations for example. Look at the might of certain companies which has been entirely supported by the strength of profile that PR has given them - because the creatives behind that process have found innovative ways to bring those companies into the public eye and keep them there. They create a currency, news which is enthralling and which both stimulates and feeds a demand.
Websites and online design are transforming the way we learn, the way we view the world and the way we communicate. And as much as the coders deserve recognition for what magic they do in the background – there has to be a creative mind conceiving the original material, setting those goals and continually moving the goalposts in the process.
Yet what happens when someone wants to bring several creatives to the table with a view to working with them…?
Often, those creative individuals are expected to offer up their concepts, the lifeblood of their business, their ingenious ideas – for nothing…
That's right – for nothing.
They are expected to produce a strategy, designs, storyboards, showreels and solutions – which require a substantial time investment and high levels of that mercurial creativity – before budgets are even discussed, let alone time reimbursed.
Could you possibly imagine a world in which people from say the accountancy sector would be expected to rock up to a pitch and offer you free advice on how to sort your accounts out in the hope that once they've given their precious knowledge away – they might get some work??
Or the solicitors, or the quantity surveyors, or the business analysts, or the structural engineers…? In fact – any industry that isn't within the creative sector?
The value we all place on creativity is nowhere near enough. And I don't mean that we creatives should all be getting paid millions of pounds – just that we shouldn't be doing it for nothing.
There are plenty of businesses out there who daren't say no – who will take anything on at any price and it's probably because they don't value their own worth.
What is needed is a sea-change across all of the creative industries. We made a decision at start-up that at Agent Public Relations, we wouldn't chase those pitches where budget cannot be discussed. It's an affront in our opinion and it's often large public sector organisations that expect it.
We're more than happy to sit down and discuss our track record, our abilities, our ethos - to provide references etc, but we can't be expected to produce a strategy for nothing – we speak from experience. The only guarantee in a loss-leader scenario is that you'll make a loss and you'll demoralise your team along the way!
And so it's down to the creatives to stand tall and defend their knowledge, their values and their skills. Come on you creative industries guys – man up, let's be proud of those years of hard work and ingenuity. It's what makes the world go round.
Because if we don't value our abilities and our knowledge – we can't expect anyone else to.