The Value of Looking Beyond Our Walls

Each month, we like to take a couple of hours out of our day for ‘Beyond our Walls’, a group session in which we collectively look at some of the great creative projects that are happening around the world, beyond the walls of FleishmanHillard.

There’s a natural focus on branded marketing campaigns, but given the varied nature of the work we do and the blend of disciplines in our agency, we’ll often review an eclectic range of case studies and ideas – from charity print campaigns through high-end performance automobile virals to exciting new technology.

Everyone is invited to share something that they’ve seen and loved and then together we dive into a group discussion around the merits of the idea. The emphasis is on the creativity that makes the idea work in its context – practicalities like the budget, actors involved and agency behind it tend to be secondary considerations at best.

This probably sounds fairly straightforward – and, for the most part, it is. We all have inboxes jam-packed with newsletters rounding up the latest brand or agency case studies, and regularly tap the likes of Mashable, PRWeek and even Buzzfeed for inspiration. ‘Beyond our Walls’ is simply an opportunity to bring all this into a discursive, face-to-face forum.

Yet it is a far more powerful process than simply reading an email round-up or gathering around a colleague’s desk to watch a YouTube video. Gradually, it enables us to create a more creative, confident and cohesive team, with an expanded appreciation for what is possible in our industry.

Indeed, while we have more than our fair share, FleishmanHillard isn’t entirely composed of people confident in their own creativity – and I’d wager that few agencies are. Sourcing imaginative, creative people is a huge part of our hiring process, but finding people who are comfortable expressing that creativity as tangible, client-friendly ideas across all roles can be tricky.

This is a skill that needs to be acquired and nurtured. Fundamentally, it’s about developing the confidence to determine why you like an idea and then articulate that to your colleagues. It’s also about maintaining the passion and drive to care about campaign creativity. In some ways, it almost mirrors pitching – “Tell us why you love something and convince us that we should love it, too”.

‘Beyond Our Walls’ is one method for developing this important skill – to be able to consider the value of creative ideas and openly share your opinions with both clarity and confidence. It’s also – hopefully – inspiring, helping to showcase how others within our industry have successfully married creative idea and client goal.

We’d like to think that the sessions have helped hone at least one swirling mass of thoughts into a sterling idea that has rocked a client’s world. Even if that’s not the case, at the very least there are usually biscuits.