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Can Playful Thinking Help PR?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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As flacks we often engage in sessions of “What if we...?” or brainstorming or discussing new possible ways to get the word about our own brand or the brands of our clients out to the marketplace. A blog posted recently on the Idealist.org website noted the benefits of playful thinking. Written by Rebecca Olson, the piece commented:

“If your last brainswarm left you with a yellow notepad full of wild ideas, don’t chuck them in the recycling can quite yet. You might be closer to a great new program idea or creative fundraising solution than you think.

“According to the minds behind the leading design innovation firm IDEO, the ridiculous ideas we get from uninhibited playful thinking come hand in hand with brilliant ones.

“Brendan Boyle is a partner and toy lab leader at IDEO and promotes creative entrepreneurialism around the world. Joe Wilcox, a former circus performer and kinetic sculptor, is one of IDEO’s top toy inventors.”

Hmm. Interesting comments indeed. But, there’s more. A recent article, says Ms Olson, that appeared on the 99U website had an interview with both Mr Boyle and Mr Wilcox. What Mr Boyle said is worth reading (re-quoted from the 99U article):

“This is a quote from Stewart Brown, who is founder of the National Institute for Play, “Most people think that the opposite of play is work (especially in the corporate world) but the opposite is boredom or even depression.” To me, play is what you’re passionate about doing. You want to do it because it’s enjoyable and you want to keep doing it because it brings you joy. But play is a ton of effort.

Big innovation is right on the edge of ridiculous ideas. You need an environment that isn’t quite so judgmental about a ridiculous idea. Sometimes those are the ones that are so close to being the brilliant ones. If a space that allows for play can help encourage those types of ideas than you’ll come up with some possibly ridiculous but potentially groundbreaking ideas.”

So, what crazy ideas have you come up with in the past that have turned out to be great? As Ms Oloson noted, “So hang on tight, buckle your safety belt, and don’t be afraid to get a little silly with your ideas. You never know what you’ll come up with.”


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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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