Creatively Corporate

4 Ways to Be Creative in a Formal (Stuffy) Corporate Culture

4 Ways to Be Creative in a Formal (Stuffy) Corporate Culture


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Creative people – writers, videographers, or graphic designers – usually enter a job with dreams of having artistic autonomy, even when we get a gig at an established company with a very traditionally formal culture. Quite often there’s a wake-up call when we realize, “Oh yeah. These people sign my checks, so I have to do what they say.” While our creative talents are certainly valued, our vision isn’t always desired.

Maybe you’re lucky enough to be a part of a company with a more casual culture, but those still tend to be the exception rather than the rule. For more traditional or conservative corporate environment, new and innovative concepts can be met with apprehension. Leaders are used to the tried and true methods, and often stick to the philosophy that if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

So what do you do if you want to add graphics to your articles, post a viral video on the company’s social media channel, begin a gamification-style engagement program, or introduce anything that deviates from the norm of your organization’s traditional way of connecting with employees or customers? Here are just a few thoughts:

Build Relationships/Get People on Your Side
This can be tough for creative folk because we’re often introverts. We get our energy from solitude rather than socialization. That’s fine if you’re not looking to advance too far in your organization; but if you want to prove yourself and claim more of a voice in the direction of an internal or external communication strategy, you need to step outside your comfort zone and start building relationships with others, preferably decision makers who will be valuable advocates.

The more you can get others to like and trust you, the more apt they are to see things your way and allow you the slack you need to make strides in your creative expression and career advancement. I’m not going to pretend it’s easy. As a proud introvert, I’ve had to practice often to build my professional interaction skills, including making small talk… which I hate more than almost anything else. However, the benefits definitely have paid off.

Prove Your Case
Sometimes management doesn’t want to introduce new approaches to communications because they don’t want to tread into untested waters. But the fact is that there’s almost nothing new under the sun. You might have gotten your idea by reading about another company that’s doing the same thing and having success. If that’s the case, show the evidence to your manager or director. Give them the articles that detail the way another organization has incorporated similar ideas and have seen improvements in their employee or customer engagement. Ragan.com is full of articles like this, so you won’t have to search high and low for this kind of information.

Offer Options
Proposed content is good, but some people won’t see your vision. So show it to them – give them a tangible product.  Whatever you want to do – a new kind of video, blog, infographic, article, etc. – create it first, then show it to the head people in charge. Yes, this is extra work, and you might not ever see it come to fruition, but the effort will be well worth it if you can convince the decision makers the value you can add with your foray into new territory.

Find Less Formal Internal or External Outlets to Experiment
Some organizations have employee blogs or newsletters that allow for a little more creative license than an official intranet news article or customer-facing outlet – maybe a newsletter or employee blog. This can be your opportunity to entertain your coworkers with a creative quip or graphic that can you’re your management the possibility of greater engagement.  Or, find an external channel (personal blog, for example) to try out a video or infographic. Let them see the potential you can bring in house.

Have you had to overcome a conservative or traditional company culture? How did you break through and get to try something new? Let us know in the Comment section.

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