We’ve all been there. In a conference room surrounded by our colleagues, collectively willing our minds to procure some brilliant, out of the box idea that is going to be THE ONE…and coming up blank. Just when you’ve given up hope and are ready to call the session a wash, someone says something that creates a spark. You can all but see the metaphorical lightbulbs popping above everyone’s heads. A couple of builds and “yes, ands” from participants across the room, each one making the idea stronger and richer, et Voila! A creative concept is born.
Back in the BC years (Before COVID), these ideas were generally born in one of our many conference rooms during one of our many, many brainstorms that happen regularly at Coyne. Just like all C-list actors on “MTV Cribs” have ever said about their bedrooms, our conference rooms are truly “where the magic happens.” There’s nothing particularly remarkable about these conference rooms; sure, they’re nicely appointed and some have cool retractable garage doors, but it’s the people inside – and the collaborative energy between us – that make them, well, magical.
At Coyne, we pride ourselves on our creativity. And fortunately, others have taken notice. In fact, we were named Creative Agency of the Year in 2019 by The Holmes Report (shameless plug alert!), and it’s a title we’ve worn proudly. But as we moved into 2020 and were thrown a curveball no one could have predicted, how would we maintain our level of creativity when nothing else looked at all the same?
Room to Grow (Ideas)
Well, taking a nod from the beloved Tim Gunn, we Made. It. Work.
Sure, the dry erase walls were gone (not to mention the cool, retractable ones), as were the post-it notes and never-ending supply of candy to fuel one’s thinking (my excuse for indulging in fistfuls of Starburst). But what wasn’t gone were the people, and the energy between us. Soon after quarantine began, it become evident that while so much of daily life was coming to a screeching halt, the passion we have for bringing ideas – and solutions – to the brands we steward was not going anywhere.
While PR professionals are quite acquainted with Murphy’s Law and are the masters of pivoting when inevitably needed, these waters were unchartered for even the most seasoned of us. But by staying connected as an agency and sharing resources and information in real time, we were able to keep a pulse on the media landscape for our clients’ respective industries. Armed with that information, we were then able to do what we do best – bring creative ideas to the table.
Thank goodness for technology, amirite? By leveraging the capabilities of Microsoft Teams and Zoom, the cadence of team brainstorming at Coyne has not slowed one bit, and the output from those sessions has proven that not being in the same room does not impede the room to grow ideas.
In recent months, we have strategically launched new products through reimagined campaigns. We’ve come up with entirely new creative platforms, helping our brands support the front-line workers and those most impacted by COVID-19. We applied lessons learned along the way and remained forward-thinking as our clients began to plan for 2021 and beyond. In short, it’s been business as (un)usual; for more on that, and recent creative work executed by the agency, take a peek here.
To supplement our standard ideation sessions, we’ve also added some creativity-inducing extra-curriculars, if you will, to our weekly schedules. After all, it’s widely known that igniting the five senses can optimize creative thinking, hence the playdough, odd objects, visual aids (and yes, fistfuls of Starburst) that are frequently brought to brainstorms to help harness one’s creativity.
Helping us to stay connected – and creative – Human Resources has led us in virtual dance parties. The head of our IT department, known affectionately as “Computer Mark,” has improved our culinary skills through weekly virtual cooking demonstrations. Thanks to him, we all now can make some mean pancakes, fried chicken and Pasta and Broccoli Aglio Olio. Executive Vice President Jennifer Kamienski has MC’ed weekly storytelling sessions, where Coyne employees have recounted personal stories of heartbreak, career triumphs (and disasters) and lessons learned from our grandparents. Social Media Strategist, Megan Schuster, has also taught us how to focus our senses inward through weekly guided meditation sessions.
These sensory breaks have no doubt positively impacted our collective work output, and of course, our morale. Albert Einstein once said, “Creativity is intelligence having fun.” Well, one thing is for sure: despite everything, we’re still having fun.
Hindsight is 2020
If this year has taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. Luckily for us, having a career where there is always a contingency plan, we are a group well-suited to survive and thrive in even the craziest of conditions.
It may still be a while before we are back brainstorming together in those magical conference rooms, but until then, we will be here bringing our creative “A game” – even if it’s to plan B.