Its easy to think that there’s not much left that hasn’t been done before in terms of content and online PR ideas and keeping up with whats happening gets harder with the abundance of media platforms and tools. The reality is that creativity is like the universe: “there are no limits apart from the ones our own capabilities set us.” This freedom however can lead us to not seeing the wood for the trees or leave us feeling lost and in need for some structure. Writers block, idea fatigue, no new ideas syndrome – whatever you might call it, the following post wants to beat it!
Here are 20 tips and tools to help you boost your creativity:
Let them do the work for you
A great way to be fed with content ideas is to sign up for alerts and newsletters. A good idea to avoid blocking your inbox is to create rules in Outlook so they land in separate folders you can access them when you need to.
- Google Alerts: get instant messages when your catchwords appear elsewhere on the web. This doesn’t only help at the research stage, but also delivers potential target sites on a silver platter.
- Mention: works similar to Google Alerts but also scans Social Media. However it does only let you sign up for a limited amount of alerts for free.
- HARO (Help A Reporter Out): opportunities to provide journalists with what they need. If that doesn’t work for you or your clients, it still gives you an insight into some of the projects others are working on. Good starting point for idea generation for free!
- Gorkana Alerts: their media alerts work similar to HARO but not for free since this market leading journalists database offers a whole range of other services
- Digg: great if you have no catchwords yet and need to take a step back and get inspired
- BBC Trending: as the name suggests a collection of trending topics on the news blog of the BBC, follow them on Twitter (@BBCtrending) to get your daily updates
- StumbleUpon: sign up for free, specify your interests and receive a newsletter with a collection of articles. You can up- or down vote those to show the tool if something was actually of interest to you or not.
Ask for support
- Colleagues: four eyes see more than two, two brains are more creative than one. Dont be shy and ask colleagues to sit down with you to come up with new ideas. The less they know about your field and client, the better in can be!
- Quora: set up a profile and post a question or start a discussion
- LinkedIn groups: find, create or join existing groups that reflect your interests and skillset. This is an excellent way to find experts who can help you out!
- Influencers: find them in the above groups and forums, via Google search or tools like Followerwonk or BuzzSumo
Use tools to check what is popular in your field
- BuzzSumo: helps you find the most searched and liked content as well as key influencers since they introduced this new feature last month. You can now also search for domains on BuzzSumo’s Top Content search to find out which were the most popular posts. Works for languages and markets outside the UK, too!
- Google Trends: set your target market and see at one glance what is trending right now. For a more specific overview, pick your topic and see when it peaks and troughs. Compare interest over time by changing the timeline.
- LinkedIn Pulse: you find it where you find the LinkedIn Groups (under ‘Interests’ in the main bar). Find top posts from industry leaders or start following individuals that are experts or influencers in your field. Apart from people you can also follow channels and publishers.
- Tweetdeck: entering the world of hashtags, Tweetdeck is a great tool to keep on track with popular hashtags and shows you in real-time who post them in their feed. You can also schedule Tweets with this tool which is really helpful when working on a big PR campaign.
- Hashtag.org: limited options for free but interesting to see the rise and fall of trending hashtags. Tailored mainly to the US market.
Recycle old ideas
This is the one of the main messages you should take from this post: Only because something has been done before it doesn’t mean you have to stay away from it. On the contrary: if something has worked well for someone else with a similar target audience, why can’t you make it work for yours? In a way much of the work has been done for you already – and you know it works. Now it’s your turn to:
- Make it even better
- Give it a different spin
- Tailor it to your specific audience
Have a break
Studies have shown that students who did something completely random and unrelated like washing up just before sitting an exam, performed better in the exam than those who revised. If you’re stuck and you are aware of it, take a break. Make a coffee, go for a short walk, get some fresh air. The minute you take you mind off the topic you allow your ideas to flow.
Don’t get carried away
The above is just a selection of tools and tips you can fall back upon, there are thousands out there and its easy to get distracted. Remember their purpose is to make life easier for you, not to put you under pressure. Use the ones you find helpful and ditch the ones you cant make use of.