Improvizing Your Way to More Productive Brainstorm Sessions

by KGBTexas Admin on September 24, 2014

The world lost two brilliant comedians this past summer, Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, each leaving a legacy of laughter. But as comedians, their contributions to our daily lives are potentially far greater.

As it happens, the strategies comedians use to entertain us can vastly improve our daily workplace interactions – and brainstorms. In fact, by following a few tried and true rules of comedy, you can motivate your team to contribute more, and better, ideas.

Just say “yes.”

One of the first rules of improv is “Don’t block.” For a scene to work, you have to move it forward – together. Saying “no” forces the scene to a halt.

Similarly, the biggest impediment to a great brainstorming session is not inexperience or a lack of creativity.  It’s “no.”

Although usually well-intentioned, “That won’t work…” crushes ideas before they’ve had a chance to hatch and signals there’s a right and wrong answer. Thought filtering and a deafening roar of crickets commence.

While some ideas are truly veto-worthy, try to go with them – if only for a minute. Consider the lead balloon lobbed into the room and ask, “If I absolutely had to, how could I make this fly?” Absurdity ensues, which does two important things. It forces new ways of thinking creatively, and it creates a culture of trust, where participants are comfortable sharing ideas.

Say “Yes, and…”

In improvisational comedy, students are taught not only to say “yes,” but to say, “yes, and…” The thought is to embrace your teammate’s contribution to the scene and push it forward. In a brainstorm, “and” can enhance a simple thought with the substance it needs to become a legitimate idea. A few more “ands” can turn that idea into a campaign. With an unimaginative thought as your starting point, “yes, and…” will help you push ideas forward, taking them from boring to brilliant.

Rule of three and the unexpected.

Consider comedian Laura Kightlinger’s line, “I can’t think of anything worse after a night of drinking than waking up next to someone and not being able to remember their name, or how you met, or why they’re dead.”

It’s what comedians call the “comedic triple” or “rule of three.” It establishes a pattern and lands a laugh with an unexpected twist.

In brainstorming, while “yes, and…” pushes your campaigns forward, the rule of three makes them buzz-worthy.

Once you have a baseline idea, force yourself to look for three different ways to implement it. Instead of merely passing hors d’oeuvres at an event, can you have a food truck? Serve from helado carts? Or have roving “vending” machines? Many of these ideas will end up on the cutting room floor. But giving your team the license to explore will yield vastly better results than accepting “good enough.”

Have fun!

Okay. So there’s not really a rule in comedy that says have fun. In fact, the process can be quite painful.  But, the next time you’re faced with leading a creative mission, remember to think like a comedian. Say yes, take things too far and throw in a few curve balls. It could make the difference between a mediocre brainstorming session and an inspired one.

-Tiffany Heikkila, PR Account Supervisor

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PR Lessons from the Celebrity Hacking of 2014

by KGBTexas Admin on September 3, 2014

If you haven’t been living in a hole this past week, then you’re aware of the latest scandalous celebrity photo leak – therein lies a valuable PR lesson.

Unseemly photos of A-list celebrities, including J-Law and Kate Upton, were leaked on the Internet this past weekend raising concerns and casting a dubious eye on the Apple iCloud. While the answer to this issue seems obvious – don’t take nude photos of yourself – the situation actually raises legitimate questions about cloud security and the capacity for corporate sabotage.

For us PR pros, the leak acts as a cautionary tale and leaves a few things for us to take into consideration:

  1. Ensure your clients’ most important servers are as far our of reach from hackers as possible –this seems obvious, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check
  2. Know that information you thought was deleted is probably still be stored on remote servers
  3. Be prepared and have an action plan for when/if sensitive information finds its way into the public eye
  4. Make sure everyone keep their clothes on; the internet never forgets

-Emily Wells-

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How to Become a Brand Storyteller

by KGBTexas Admin on September 2, 2014

An important role of any PR pro is to serve as a brand storyteller to their clients – to help build, shape and perfect their public voice. Building a strong voice for your client takes practice and you should be prepared to spend just as much time perfecting the voice as you do creating the content.

Here are a few tips to find your – or your client’s – inner voice.

Know the ins and outs of your client.

In order to tell the best story possible, you must know first-hand what you are selling to your audience. Research your client, stay up to date on industry trends, know the issues they face, ask questions, keep their mission statement top of mind. The more confident you are, the stronger your client’s voice will be.

Visualize your audience.

SNL crying girl

It is almost of equal importance to know the demographic characteristics of your audience and how that relates to your client’s story. Knowing the general target audience and what affects them will benefit you when voicing to them, on behalf of your client.

Show personality. 

Nobody likes boring. Celebrate your brand and create outlets to connect with your audience. Keep your client’s voice consistent on all mediums – from social media to published bylines. Engage with brand fans on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest. These are your outlets to add pizzazz and shine.

Get in the Zone. 

Picture your client speaking to their audience and envision the feelings you want portrayed. Focus on your client, write a few drafts, read your words out loud and tweak as needed until you have the perfect voice.

- Caitlin Bagnall -

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Reflections on the 2014 KGBTexas Retreat

by KGBTexas Admin on August 25, 2014

As Peter Pan gently floated out of Wendy’s window before their trip to Neverland, the children asked how to get there. Peter’s response was “Second star to the right and straight on till morning.”   With a little pixie dust and a few happy thoughts, they were off to conquer new worlds and dream new things.

As I voyaged through the agency’s annual retreat; I was reminded of this story several times. Our values are based on being Entrepreneurial, Bold, Curious and Strategic.   The first three are built on gumption, adventure and breaking new ground. They are the happy thoughts, the pixie dust, and the childlike spirit. The fourth is the directions. It’s making sure we acknowledge that sometimes you need to look a bit to the right from what was in front of you and then take a bee-line straight to the horizon once you’ve insured your spirit is strong.   It’s the balance between the child like inquisitiveness to look at things a different way while still having the “adult” discipline to make dreams become reality.     It’s nice. You get to be a kid again and still feel like you are grown up enough to stand on your own two feet.

retreat 2014But in practical terms, what happens with this approach?   What occurs when you take that brief sideways glance and remind yourself that not only is it ok, but it is indeed brilliant to force yourself to look at a problem from a different angle? It creates those epiphanies in life where the problems you thought were there melt away.   Immediately in front of you there was a solid brick impermeable wall. But, two steps to the right you can see a gate that allows you to walk right through.   What was a wall is a mere thin pillar to build something off of or around.

We all have those clients that tell us to do what has always been done in order to make them happy and drive sales. But that isn’t really what they want. What they are really seeking is to beat that. They want to be inspired to do more, be better, and overachieve just like their customers do. They settle for “just don’t make it worse” because they don’t know how else to approach it and they figure at least that’s safe.   They revert to security instead of innovation because they pay us for the marketing and message innovation.   It’s a pretty basic result of the hierarchy of needs.   We have evolved to create security first and dream last. Fortunately in my business, our security is dependent upon our innovation. Our hierarchy of needs is flipped. Without creativity, innovation, boldness, dreamers and a pinch of pixie dust to keep us moving forward we wither on the vine and pass into nothing.

So, as we march on into the week take a look at your biggest problem, throw out all the reasons it can’t be solved and for a moment, dream a way through it.   Pull on the talents of those around you and ask the “What if” questions that propose approaching a problem from a different angle even when others say it’s just something to live with.

retreat 2014 bowlingAs a very practical matter, part of our retreat also involved bowling. The first five frames I kept curving my ball to the side in the exact same place yielding a less than optimal result. A reminder that perhaps I should try something different and I added two small steps to the right. Then I aimed straight through the center arrow and yielded three strikes in a row. This psychology stuff works y’all. Have a great week.   I’m off to Neverland.

-Chris Day-

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What Strategists Might Not Have Taught You About Insights

by KGBTexas Admin on August 7, 2014

When I first started out, strategists, called account planners back in the day, were defined as the finders of the golden nuggets/piercing insights/human truths.  We were taught to judge our insight discoveries as something akin to discovering the meaning of Stonehenge.

These insights, we were told, were only good if they drastically changed people’s understanding of the world around them, their own self-perceptions and/or their perception and understanding of your client’s product.  With all due respect to those who taught me (or my own youthful naiveté), YOU LIED!

While these insights do exist and we find them every once in awhile, these types of insights are like really great albums—most artists only have a few in them over the course of their career.

I’m not saying that as a profession, strategy fails miserably daily.  Instead, I’m saying that while we should always strive to find those Holy Grails, we should also recognize that there are also other judging criteria to assess our insights.

Here are a few of mine:

1. Does it turn your head?

I had a dog once that would go crazy every time I’d ask her if she wanted to go for a walk.  Before a complete tail wagging frenzy, she’d always cock her head to the side to signify “Did I just hear you right?  A WALK?!?!?!”

got-milk-logoIf an insight causes a human to respond similarly, go with it.  You’re probably on to something.  These insights cause us to think, “Hmmm, I never thought about it that way” or “What?  Did I hear that right?” <insert slight turn of the head>.  While maybe not revolutionary, these insights make people see things in a different light.

They may seem small at the time, but who knows where they may ultimately lead?  One that comes to mind is the insight that drove the Got Milk? campaign in the 1990s.  Everyone accepted that milk did a body good.  But, the insight that really got them thinking (and buying) was “milk is really important when you don’t have it.”

2. Is it hiding in plain sight?:

Some insights we know to be true, usually experience everyday, but never actually recognize and/or articulate.  They usually are dismissed because they don’t seem big enough or they aren’t supported by research.  Sometimes, research can actually help bring them to bear.  Years ago, I worked on a personal electronics client whose main revenue came from car stereo systems.  In an early briefing, we were told that their research-defined target was men, 35-54, with household incomes of more than $75,000.

Having been a teenager who spent plenty of time careening around my hometown in cars that were completely decked out with “nice systems”, I knew that this target was not right.  Yes, it was a gut feeling, and after much discussion, the agency all recognized the obvious truth:  we needed to talk to teenage guys who would go hungry to afford “nice speakers”.  Luckily, the client agreed to this strategy and let us go in a that direction.  This insight wasn’t hidden deep in our collective psyche, but to that client it was hiding in plain sight.

3. Does it just need publicity? Some insights are recognized by many, but for whatever reason, they’ve never been deployed.  One of my favorite ads as a kid was a perfume ad for Enjoli—“the 8 hour perfume for the 24 hour woman.”

Truth be told, not a good ad, but I loved the song.  Looking back though, I realize it was based on an insight that the female experience in America had changed.  Women were regularly the mom, the wife, the breadwinner, and the vixen.  At the time, I’m sure everyone knew that, but this ad leveraged that insight into our culture for one of the first times.  I think a similar thing is starting to happen to fathers in America.  Recent campaigns by Dove for Men, Clorox and Tide have diverted their attention away from the usual Mom themes and opted to highlight Dad’s roles in taking care of the family.  As someone who is watching my male friends take a more active role in the household than our Dad’s did, I know these communications to be a true reflection of something happening at the moment.  It’s nice to see it getting some publicity.

I know that many insights fit all of these criteria, which is my point.

Judge your insights by a variety of factors. Strive for the unknown, unrecognized and/or mind-blowing ones, but don’t throw the others out. They may be the beginning of something much bigger than you can imagine at the moment.

-Randy King-

VP of Strategic Planning

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