It’s crushing when you have an idea for a campaign and think you’ve hit the jackpot, until you have a quick Google and realise it was done about six months ago AND it was successful.
Subconsciously you might have seen it and that’s how you got to the idea you have now, that’s one reason, but I don’t think that’s the case. It’s been done before because it’s a good idea and you’ve followed the same steps to get to it. Now, the question you need to ask yourself is, ‘how can I do it better?’.
We know how relentless Digital PR is, there’s hundreds and hundreds of agencies all looking for that one idea that’s relevant, good for the brand, newsworthy, builds links and hits every headline and sometimes you might have that one unique idea, and if you do, run with it.
But, if we’re being optimistic about the unrelenting nature of PR and how incredibly competitive it is, we can see that if an idea has been done already, then we have a solid foundation to build off!
When I interviewed for my job at Impression I pitched a series of ideas for a client, once I had the job I got the opportunity to bring the ideas to life, but… I found the first one had been done before.
I wanted to find the perfect formula for a lullaby and upon Googling it on my first day in the job, I found it had been covered here in a campaign where AI created the perfect lullaby with an actual composer and had given it a ‘21st century twist’, it had done what I wanted to do and produced something I didn’t have the means to!
So I had to think about how I could do it better and what would make it more newsworthy. The question I kept coming back to was ‘I wonder if there’s a rap song that sends kids off to sleep?’.
To cut a long story short, I eventually figured out a way to make the campaign completely different through lots of analysis of lullabies and some creativity. It turned out U2’s ‘One’ ticked all aspects of the ‘lullaby formula’ we created, and it was a really successful campaign offering us loads of angles and multiple stabs at pushing it out, you can read the full case study here.
I guess what I’m getting at is, most ideas have been done before. People sneer at dream job campaigns, ‘best playlists to do XX to’ and most Instagrammed XX, but they’re just vehicles, formats, what makes them different is the content, the headlines, the angles and the relevancy. Granted, you should offer your clients bags more creativity than just using a tried and tested format over and over again, and you should always be aiming to innovate and be original, but if it happens to tick all of the boxes, go for it and make it better.
So here’s some quick tips and things to consider around how you can make your idea much better if it’s already been done before:
- Think headline first, can you reach a newsworthy headline that the other hasn’t?
- Can you pull the data from other places and spin it in a different way?
- Does the client have its own data that no one else has?
- Can you add more expertise to the piece?
- Can you create something, like an asset, formula, calculator?
- Can you emphasise how topical it is with other assets, like search data, trends, tweets etc?
- Can you tap into the regionals or a new vertical and niche the other campaign didn’t?
There you have it. It’s likely someone has pipped you to an idea before, most things have already been done you just have to do it better!
Mark Twain once said: “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of coloured glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
So just make those pieces of glass shine and look better!
Good luck and don’t do any of mine better than me.