Ideation techniques for effective digital PR brainstorming

Matt Foster | 3rd April 2018 | Digital PR

Are you struggling to generate ideas for future digital PR campaigns? Maybe you want to simply streamline the ideation process? Adding structure to your ideation sessions or brainstorms can not only create a more time-effective session, but also help a team to work more creatively with the brief they’ve been given.

We’ve outlined the core elements to communicate with those attending the ideation session before your next brainstorm.

Pre-briefing for a brainstorm

Key to an effective ideation session for digital PR campaigns are:

  1. Effective pre-briefing – so everyone is clear on the campaign goals 
  2. Structure – to allow everyone a turn at pitching their ideas
  3. Conversation – to let these ideas be discussed and developed 

Ask everyone attending the ideation session to bring three ideas along. Highlight which publications you’ll be targeting in the pre-brief, giving an indication of the audience a campaign idea should appeal to.

Each idea should be presented in the brainstorm with an explanation of which publications and niches it targets, along with the three key elements of a digital PR idea:

PR Story tips

  1. The hook – What is the interest element of the story that sparks interest?
  2. Relevancy – How does the topic tie into current events, conversation points or trends?
  3. Link back to your client – Why are they talking about this subject?

What should be considered when creating a digital PR plan?

Research your target publications and know what type of stories they cover, as well as topics that they have devoted time and column inches to in the past. From this, you will not only learn the tone of voice that you will need to convey with your story, but also provide invaluable insight into past stories that you could replicate with your own unique take.

As an example, if your client is looking to increase their exposure to a younger audience, consider online publications like the Metro, Buzzfeed or Mashable.

Budgets – money doesn’t make the world go round, but rich content does. A budgetary constraint is the norm for many companies, so proposing a considerable spend for a single PR idea will likely stall your campaign before it has even started at the client pitch. Instead of giving up at this point, consider how you might cut costs by being a little more inventive.

Timings – getting your timing right is everything in getting your story covered in the media. Plan ahead and know what the relevance of your story will have at the time of promoting it.

A new spin on a story  each year similar trends in headlines come around in a cyclical fashion, tied in with annual events and occasions – for example travel news in the summer months, running and fitness before the London Marathon and mental health during the winter months. Is your client in the position to put a new spin on these headline trends? Ask yourself what people are talking about right now and these trends will jump out at you. 

Don’t be afraid to position your idea a step away from your client’s core products or services – some clients operate in more niche industries which might initially appear to limit your creative process. Make a note of every solution their products and services provide, as this could lead you to the perfect digital PR idea.

Bring every idea to the table – you never know what could spark your inspiration into a winning idea. As long as the idea is rooted with an element of the above thought processes, the brainstorm is the environment where a collective of ideas feeding an initial idea or concept may develop what an individual cannot. 

It’s about listening as much as getting your own ideas across – each person in the ideation brainstorm should pitch 3 ideas, so everyone in the group has the opportunity to pitch their ideas without having to compete. Write each idea on a board for everyone to see, then the group can filter through the ideas after everyone has pitched.

Try our ideas for yourself in your next ideation session and see if they put a little more structure into the brainstorming process. 

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