What is Ideation?
As much as we might not have heard the term thrown around a lot often prior to working in the industry, ideation isn’t something that is just limited to Digital PR. It’s essentially what it sounds like; the act of coming up with ideas and solutions through various methods and techniques.
However, when it comes to Digital PR, we all know that ideation has a key role to play – it’s where all our long-form content, and campaigns (big or small!) begin.
We also know it can be a lot harder than it looks too, some clients might be more niche than others, may not want to touch certain topics or react to certain stories in the news. So, how do we come up with great ideas, that maybe wouldn’t be considered ‘newsworthy’ but people would still want to engage with?
Coming Up With Ideas
There are so many opportunities, outlets, and sources for inspiration when it comes to ideation! Here are a few of my favorites;
News: The most obvious, and popular method – what is relevant and trending at the moment? And is this something that you can link back to your client?
However, it’s important to consider if the topic will still be relevant once the campaign is live. Combined with size, potential edits, designs, and delays, some campaigns can take weeks or even months to go live!
Search Data: It’s been debated more than once if search data is enough and credible enough for a PR campaign, and whilst the jury’s still out on that one – let’s talk about how helpful it can be for coming up with ideas instead.
Using tools such as Ahrefs, or Google Trends shows you what people are searching for and what questions they want the answers to, and you don’t need to know the ins and outs of metrics, and volumes to see that!
Your campaign will only get noticed by a journalist if it’s something that they find interesting and appeals to them, and it will only get published if the journalists feel like their readers will get something of value out of it – so answering these questions is a great way to do that!
Evergreen Content: Remember those niche clients who you struggle to find newsworthy, relevant topics to base your campaigns around for? Evergreen content is your new best friend!
‘Evergreen’ topics are subjects that are always relevant, or always seem to be in the news for one reason or another, which is why they’re a great option for more complicated clients. Using these topics in your campaign can also aid in its longevity and repurposing the content later down the line.
What To Keep In Mind
Is the data there? If your idea relies solely on data and statistics, does it exist, how easy is it to get, and is it recent? Whilst an idea might seem great in theory, sometimes if you’re on a tight schedule the research or data acquisition (such as FOIs) can take a while, or the data is old and could be argued to be no longer credible…or simply doesn’t exist.
Do you have the stats to back it up? Not all campaigns and ideas have to be data-heavy, however, if it isn’t – sometimes it’s best to have some kind of stats or data, such as search data, to justify to the client and journalists why you’ve gone with that idea.
Who is the demographic? What demographic are you targeting with this idea? Does the demographic match that of the clients, and would they want to use the clients’ products and services?
How will it look? How will the idea look if it’s turned into a campaign? Would it be a map, infographic, or even a ranking table? Having an idea of its presentation in mind will help make the idea clearer to your team and clients when pitching it.
Is it relevant? You need to not only question if it’s relevant to what is going on in the news..is it something journalists and press would want to cover and link to? But, is it also relevant to your client? Does your client have the authority to comment and give advice on the comment?
Does it provoke emotion? This doesn’t mean it has to make the reader sad, it can provoke humour, interest, or happiness! Is this something that the reader would want to discuss and share with others?
Here are some of my favourite resources and blog posts from other experts and agencies I like to look at when I’m struggling with inspiration or would like to try a new ideation technique.
A really helpful overview of all things Ideation in relation to Digital PR, with some great examples.
Great guide on brainstorming for both larger campaigns, and smaller, reactive campaigns.
A great selection of inspo sources for your ideation!