Digital & Social Media

Creative Outputs Are Important; Creative Input Is Essential


Over the course of more than 30 years in a communications firm, I’ve come to see creativity in a few different lights:

  • I see it as a consumer, someone who occasionally is a member of the “target audience.”
  • I see it as outputs – from print to videos to digital – both for our clients and in the work other agencies produce.
  • But perhaps the most intriguing view I get of creativity is its evolution in the communications strategy and planning process.

It’s in this third manner where creativity dons its most underappreciated and underemployed role: creativity as problem solver. The necessity for this role only rises as the rate of change (ROC) rises.

The ROC seems to be following Moore’s law: doubling in speed every 18 months. That puts enormous pressure on marketers to adapt. If we are not adapting in a hyper-accelerated way, we will become obsolete in a blink of the proverbial eye.

Technology enables people to move at light speed, to change their behaviors, find new favorites, and alter their media consumption reflexively. Society responds by moving between trends far more quickly than a media plan can anticipate. What’s a marketer to do?

You need to bake-in to your planning an approach to who-what-when-where-and-why (5-Ws) that employs a continuous and sustainable creative dissection of the ever-changing ways to connect. And you can’t “one-off” the 5-Ws. Get one wrong and you are out of step, out of time, out of engagement, out of luck.

It’s an interplay between the analytics and the possibilities they suggest. One burning insight can split the creative atom…We ask, “What if?” and “How about?” and “Have we thought of?” in each new moment. We become part of a traveling circus of informed creativity. It’s an ongoing evolutionary system. The outputs have to evolve to meet the needs of the messages, audiences and platforms. We need to accept the new reality – continue, refine and evolve. Repeat.

It is adopting this evolutionary system that leads us to full integration, and responds to two universal truths of this era:

  • How and what we use to communicate will evolve.
  • The way audiences receive content or messages will need to be tailored to their personal preferences, and that will only become more nuanced as technology improves.

The message matters, and getting it to the right people in a way that makes sense for them and moves them to act is what we’ll be measured on. Thinking creatively up front – as an input – can liberate an even more powerful genre of planning and, ultimately, content creation and delivery.


About the author

Dave Senay

Dave Senay has held a variety of key roles during his nearly 30 years with FleishmanHillard. He is an avowed globalist, having spent much of his tenure on the road, collaborating with colleagues around the world. Senay joined the firm in 1984 as an account executive, rising to become FleishmanHillard’s third CEO since its founding in 1946, a position he held until 2015. Along the way, he served as general manager of the St. Louis headquarters office and as regional president for the U.S. Midwest, for Canada, and for EMEA. A former PR jury president at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity and chairman of the Council of Public Relations Firms, Senay is a relevant leader who continues to shape the industry in which he has spent his entire career. He currently serves as a special counsel to the firm.

A FleishmanHillard employee.