NEW YORK--Resourcing is seen as the biggest barrier to innovation in PR, according to the new Creativity in PR study.

The Creativity in PR report is co-authored by the Holmes Report and NowGoCreate, in partnership with Ketchum, based on a survey of 650 PR people from more than 35 countries across the world.

The study forms part of the Holmes Report's new Creativity channel, which aims to celebrate, explore and analyse creativity in the public relations industry.

Yesterday, the study launched by examining an apparent deficit in terms of big ideas and creative quality in the industry.

If there is an ambivalence about creative quality, and a view that the industry lacks big ideas, it is worth figuring out why.

Overwhelmingly, lack of time was cited as the biggest barrier, at 65 percent overall with little difference between in-house and agency.

Other major barriers include lack of budget (48 percent), overworked staff (37 percent), and a lack of clear creative objectives (33 percent). A quarter also blamed a lack of understanding between agency and client.

"The recurring references in the study to 'lack of time' impacting creativity are a critical factor and an issue for clients and agencies alike to wrestle with," said study co-author Claire Bridges, founder of NowGoCreate. "The PR industry is expected to deliver killer ideas often in extremely short timeframes, and to do it thoughtfully and brilliantly takes time."

The findings chime with a recent creativity study by Adobe where respondents said they felt increasing pressure to be productive at work rather than creative.

The survey received a huge amount of anecdotal feedback in response to the question above.

“Not having enough conceptual thinkers and not giving the few we do have enough time,” noted  Richard Edelman in his survey response.

“The PR industry is creatively trapped by its reliance on time billing," added another respondent. "Ad agencies don't have this and they hire creatives whose sole job it is to come up with ideas. We're not structured this way and until we change creativity will merely be part of what we do.” 

Unsurprisingly, then, more time emerged as the single biggest factor that would improve creativity in the industry, along with better knowledge of tools and an ability to take more risks. But there were many more factors cited, suggesting that a multifaceted approach is required to tackle the issue.

"Creative ideas take time to be birthed — time that PR has never allotted for in the way advertising has," said Karen Strauss, chief innovation officer at Ketchum. "Rather than rush to tactics, our industry
must insist upon insight development, followed by rounds of ideation, so we stop settling on expedient ideas.”

Importance vs involvement

Asked to rate the importance of creativity in their day-to-day work out of 10, almost a third of respondents opted for full marks, and around two-thirds said 8 or higher. Almost 40 percent, meanwhile, said that more than 70 percent of their day-to-day work involves creativity.

However, almost half of all respondents replied that creativity is only involved in half of their day-to-day work or less, a finding which perhaps helps to explain the gap between the perception of
creativity, and the reality of its day-today impact on the profession.

“It's fashionable to say that creativity is important, but far harder to actually perform creatively," explained Strauss. "We need to find ways to remove mindless, routinized tasks from our days so we're all spending more hours gaining the creative inspiration to conceive novel ideas and do break through work.”