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The secret sauce of public relations: creativity

Successful public relations professionals need skills that include the ability to write well, be organized, persevere, be personable and have somewhat of a thick skin.

But even with these talents, true success can still be difficult without one more edge: creativity.

Creativity in PR is not those high-profile, slightly wacky, social-media-driven stunts aimed at raising the visibility of a brand. It can be as simple as a clever email subject line to a journalist, something to make a pitch stand out in the inbox.

And innovative PR comes from having vision.

For example, a recent classical music concert by Boston’s Handel and Haydn (H+H) Society was interrupted by the voice of a small boy in the balcony. A Mozart selection finished, and a wee “wow” floated over the audience.

This could have ended badly. YouTube is full of videos of classical music performers angrily reacting to interruptions in their concerts (namely, cell phones). But this one resolved gloriously. The conductor smiled and the hall filled with applause.

Someone within the Handel and Haydn Society – someone with PR savvy – then had an inspiration: Find the owner of that small voice.

A Cinderella-style search ensued, with H+H president personally emailing every attendee, asking for anyone who may have brought a child with them that night.

The effort yielded Ronan Mattin, an autistic 9-year-old who had been brought to the concert by his grandfather. Ronan enjoys music, according to the family, but is nonverbal most of the time.

Unless Mozart is playing.

H+H’s issuance of the story was picked up by more than 450 media outlets and experienced by an audience of 250 million.

All from a story that could easily have been hushed, but that came to light because of those who creatively saw its potential.

In other words, by those who saw that the story was a “wow.”

Dan Weckerly is director of public relations at Lehigh Mining & Navigation, an advertising agency in Allentown. He can be reached at weckerly@lmandn.com.

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