The other day I was in a meeting with my CEO, a couple people from sales, folks from the affinity staff, and one other person from marketing. We were going over our strategy for our keynote presentations for our summer meetings.
At one point, my CEO says, “You (meaning marketing) spend so much time on design and it’s not about design. Can we spend less time on design this year and more on content?” He also said something like nobody here is interested in design. I raised my hand and said, “I am!”
As we progressed through past slide decks, he said, “I really like this slide. It tells the story well.”
The VP of Marketing turns and says, “Well, it wouldn’t have been as effective with a stick figure now would it?” Touché! I was so proud of her for sticking up for the designers.
So, I ask, why in 2011 are the “creatives” still being dissed; and, what can we do about it? Where’s the respect?
First and foremost, team leaders must stick up for what their teams do. Marketing, creative staff, and designers seem to get the short stick of the deal more often than not. I am unsure what people think we do all day. Color in coloring books? I guess because we approach work in a different way than the digit-heads and linear thinkers, people perceive what we do as child’s play. Having a team leader who will stick up for not only what you do, by why what you do is important is critical to the success of your role in an organization.
Second, be your own champion. If you are a creative professional who attends meetings with senior leadership, team members from other departments, and as a representative for creatives overall, be a champion. Tell stories about how the creative aspects of what you do impacts your organization’s bottom line. For example, I work with an online media staff that supports web site and online production. Not all of them are creative professionals, but rather are folks who focus on technological advances in how things work online. Because I have a creative background, I have to be consistent on why we need to test creative concepts and push the envelope not only with technology, but also with creative marketing. I think of it as the Jack Welch approach to creative leadership. Say it over and over and over again until the message starts coming out of people’s mouths without prompting.
Third, represent! Stand up for being a creative pro. Don’t shy away or shun who you are as a professional. Creative pros often get a bad rap for not conforming to corporate rules, work hours, dress codes, etc. Who cares? You bring value to an organization beyond conforming to some white shirt’s rules and stringent needs to be part of the master race. I’m not saying go out and ignore the establishment. What I’m saying is, stand up for what you do. Be proud of the creative genius you offer to your company. Have accolades readily available that demonstrate how you and your role impact the bottom line.
Last, share your skills and knowledge with others. Outside-of-the-box thinking is what gets us noticed. How do we take a tried and true story and make it fresh again? Who do people turn to creatives when this kind of question comes up? Because we have the answers. Share your ideas with others. Explain the process you go through when working on new creative. It helps others to open their minds and possibly share new ways of doing things too, which then spawns ideas that leads to the answer…this is how we make it fresh again.
As creative team leaders, it’s important to help your team think outside the box, embrace their creative genius, and to share how your team continually supports your company’s bottom-line strategy.
How are you as a creative leader being a champion for yourself, your team, and the creative profession overall? I’d love to hear from you on this one.
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