How to find, nurture, work with, and retain top creative talent.
The other day, I heard a TV network executive discuss the content of his network's fall line-up. I'll reserve judgment on the programs that made the cut, but in introducing the new schedule, the executive said something intriguing.
He said the first step in ensuring good content is to establish a relationship with what he calls "the creative community." He's right, of course. The best content always comes from creative souls. We've always known this when creating Web content. The problem is sometimes, we veer from what we instinctively know.
Consider your Web site. Where do you go when you need to fill it with content? Are you more inclined to take a chance with a few creative types or with packaged content providers who are efficient and quick and who, unfortunately, consider you no different from their other clients?
So if you want real creativity, where do you turn?
According to Richard Florida, author of "The Rise of the Creative Class," creative types prefer San Francisco, San Diego, and Austin, TX. The author ranked America's major cities by number of creative workers, innovation, diversity, and several other factors. At the bottom of his list are Las Vegas, Norfolk, VA, and Memphis, TN.
More important than city rankings (especially if you're in Memphis) are the author's observations on identifying creative individuals. He contends they're not always the obvious picks, such as artists and poets. Instead, they're free-thinkers who "acquire their own arcane bodies of knowledge and develop their own unique ways of doing the job." A creative type could be the secretary who organizes the office in a new -- and brilliant -- manner. It may be the manager who organizes the most outrageous team-building activities. Creativity is often found where you don't really expect it.
I couldn't agree more. I'm often asked about finding the best writers. That's a tough one because good, even passable, writing is only part of the package. You also want team members who can give your communications that hard-to-find "Why didn't I think of that?" creative sparkle. I've known legions of writers who are technically proficient but conceptually void (yes, and some even live in San Francisco!). Unfortunately, we don't often recognize the creatively stilted until they're days or weeks on the job.
My insights into tapping into the truly creative among us:
Also important for manager-types is the art of cultivating and retaining good creative people. Some good general rules of thumb:
Finding and working with creative people takes time and energy. Yet, creativity is what sparks the world's great art, inventions, and theories. It makes for some pretty amazing Web content, too.
Susan Solomon is the executive director of marketing and public relations for Memorial Health Services, a five-hospital health system in Southern California. In this capacity, she manages promotional activities for both traditional and new media. Susan is also a marketing communications instructor at the University of California, Irvine; California State University, Fullerton; and the University of California, Los Angeles.
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