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Becoming a kick-ass creative comms pro

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Becoming a kick-ass creative comms pro

Creativity is kind of essential when you work in communications. Right? Well – yes and no.

One thing we love to do is run workshops with comms teams and their colleagues to help them think more creatively and apply that thinking to their comms challenges. We ran one such session with Sarah Wright, Communications Manager at National Energy Action. And Sarah kindly wrote about her experience for our blog…


It’s true that we comms people have to produce ‘creative’ output more regularly than our non-comms colleagues, whether that’s a press release, social media post or video. But it’s also true that after some time in the job it can be fairly easy to go through the motions, particularly when the day-to-day reality of Being At Work gets in the way.

And even comms people get The Fear when it comes to being creative and putting our ideas (and ourselves) out there for all to critique.

So it was with anticipation and some slight trepidation that we welcomed Alan from Alive With Ideas to our Comms Directorate away-day to help us learn how to be Kick Ass Creative Comms Pros. He set out to de-mystify the creative process into something we could all do, there and then.

We started off by looking at examples of creative problem solving, which had nothing to do with what we’d traditionally think of as communication and everything to do with approaching an old problem in a new way. We then had the chance to start using our own creative thinking by choosing two random objects and using them to inspire a new concept, before applying the same exercise to our own campaigns.

We had lots of fun but also left with a pile of new ideas and a heightened self-belief that we too could be Kick Ass Creative Comms Pros.

Here’s some of what we learned about the barriers to creativity and how they might be overcome…

  1. The Fear. It can be scary putting your ideas (and a little part of yourself) out there for everyone to see and critique. But as Alan says – even bad ideas can lead to good ones. And as Alan also says, remember that even an idea about a movie involving sharks and tornadoes became a six-film franchise.
  2. Finding the space to think creatively. Places this doesn’t happen: at your desk; in an open plan office; having a ‘creativity’ meeting. Places it may happen: staring out of the window; chatting in the pub; doing the ironing.
  3. Not being a Creative Type. A surprisingly common thought at the start of the course, given our backgrounds; thoroughly debunked by the end of it.
  4. Not having supportive management. Top tip – give it a go, keep them updated and then wait until they stop you. Or just wait until they’ve gone on holiday for two weeks and hope you don’t get fired.
  5. Not having the budget to produce really creative stuff. Decide on the idea first and then work out if it’s possible.


Thanks so much, Sarah! We’re delighted you found it useful and would love to hear how you’re applying those thoughts across the organisation. Keep us posted.

“The guys at Alive understand the complexities of our business which means we don’t need to explain the detail of every project or design piece – they’re already on it, which keeps things moving and delivers the results we need.”

Emily Stoten — Head of Marketing, Selecta

“I feel like they own and care for the project as much as we do! I would not use anyone else for my creative work and think Alive is ahead of the game.”

Jo Hobbs — Communications Manager

“Thanks for all your help. We are delighted with the campaign, both in terms of the creativity and messaging but also the thought taken over the rollout of the materials. All looks absolutely fabulous!”

Sarah Crowdy — Campaign and Media Officer Communications, South East Water

“We went to ‘Alive’ for ideas on how to run a specific employee program in Europe. Alan and his team were brilliant in coming up with fresh, creative and practical approaches. The team took charge and executed brilliantly. We are pleased with the progress made so far and hope to have the same level of partnership and commitment going forward.”

Sobha — Tata Consultancy Services

“So glad that we chose Alive to create our new website. As well as taking the time to get the visual side of our requirement right, they worked with us to understand us, our business and our clients and reflect this across the site. We loved their flexible approach, which, coupled with the right level of challenge has replaced our old, clunky site with one we can be proud of. ”

Victoria Ford — Perago

“Alive were there to help when we were working every hour to respond to the coronavirus outbreak. They gave us the creativity, ideas and support we needed to deliver campaigns which empowered our residents in the most difficult time most of us have ever seen, personally and professionally. The team understood what we needed, worked closely with us and delivered fast without any compromise on quality. Working with Alive has been a joy in the darkest of times and I have no doubt will have helped to save lives. Thanks team x”

Julie Odams, Assistant Director of Communications & Customers — Derbyshire County Council

“We got 'Alive' involved to help us shift mindsets across our organisation and they delivered! Using simple, clear and creative ideas the team have delivered us a campaign which has seen a dramatic increase in idea sharing and development. They’ve also played a significant role in creating a culture of shared success. I wouldn’t hesitate to work with again, in fact, we already are!”

Gavin Buckle — B&Q