The death of creativity: How PR agencies must breathe life back into an empty buzzword

5 minutes read

Adam Brunes


Every PR agency in this country professes to be creative.

Regardless of agency size or style, of attitude or approach, everyone leans on creativity as their key point of difference.

Yet, it’s a term that is impossible to quantify: does an agency need to bulldoze and reimagine the status quo to be considered creative or will sprinkling a little glitter over an existing idea be enough to claim the title?

With such a broad interpretation, “creativity” has lost its way. It’s become an empty buzzword that has lost all meaning.

For a PR agency to genuinely own its claim on creativity, it must first earn that right.

It must demonstrate that creativity powers its very core from the team it hires and the ideas it creates, to the work it produces and the results it delivers.


The past few years have borne witness to widespread upheaval across Australia’s media landscape as newspapers cease publication, magazine titles fold, television and radio adopt syndicated models and troves of journalists are made redundant.

By extension, the nature of our industry has also changed.

We are not in the business of media relations any more, we are in the business of talkability.

We can no longer rely on column centimetres to measure success; we need to find creative ways to communicate with audiences, to talk about a product, a person, an event, an idea.

Aruga was founded on the philosophy that “media doesn’t drive connection, creativity does”.

Driving that connection is an increase in campaign-based activity, not dissimilar to what was once the role of a marketing or brand agency.

These creative, multi-pronged campaigns are designed to leverage all opportunities for brand visibility and talkability, be it media relations, an owned content channel, social strategy, brand ambassadors or partnerships.

Big thinkers

To cut-through a crowded media space, the onus is increasingly on PR agencies to create newsworthiness.

To do that, we need to engage big thinkers who can dream up the ideas and campaigns that get people talking.

It’s easy to get consumed in the day-to-day running of an agency, leaving little space for the clarity, perspective and creativity required to generate those big ideas.

Looking beyond our industry and drawing from a pool of creative talent – be it harnessing the skills of a freelancer or compiling a cross-sector advisory council – imbues agencies with original and unconventional frames of reference.

One of Aruga’s creative strengths is our cultural connectedness, with 40 per cent of our clients working within the context of creative industries.

We are fortunate we can engage this network of artists and creators, of dreamers and big thinkers, to view campaigns through a different lens and offer fresh perspectives and solutions.

Nurturing creativity

What grounds Aruga’s genuine creativity is the connection we have to artists and creatives within our team.

We hire from a broad range of backgrounds and across an array of skillsets, welcoming journalists and editors, advertising copywriters and graphic designers, family lawyers and Pilates instructors alongside experienced account managers and directors.

There is an artistic and creative sensibility that runs through the agency with our team’s side-hustles and hobbies including theatre production, visual art, dressmaking, photography, gardening, baking and design.

Tapping into that internal talent influences how we approach campaigns and campaign delivery.

Inter-agency relationships

PR and advertising agencies have, historically, worked relatively independently.

While we play in an essentially similar space, we’re considered two different disciplines.

However, as the lines between earned and owned media blur and we seek new ways to generate talkability, the time is ripe to unlock the potential of true creative partnership.

Aruga is part of Rumbletown, a village of thought-leading independents bound by a shared ethos across strategic creative, digital and innovation, start-ups and content, PR and media.

In short, we get better results when we work together.

Rumble can leverage our nous to identify the PR outcome of a creative advertising campaign or finesse an idea to develop the potential for earned media.

In turn, we can lean on Rumble’s mastery across succinctness and impact: the ability to convey a message or make a point in lightning speed and create a “stickiness” where that message or point lingers in your mind.

Driving connections

To become great at anything, you need to practice.

A truly creative agency must keep that creativity honed by seeking out and absorbing it at every opportunity, be it live performance, an art installation, a festival, a restaurant opening or an industry forum.

Through our client base, we are connected to the most creative members of our community; we hear their conversations, we witness their output and we learn from their practice.

This connection, this unrelenting hunger for new ideas is what legitimises Aruga’s creative credentials.

We proudly wear it as a badge that separates and distinguishes us from other agencies in our space.

Aruga is B&T’s 2019 & 2020 PR Agency of the Year and PRIA’s 2020 Agency of the Year (Medium-Sized).

Adam Brunes


A qualified journalist and published writer, Adam’s media background, coupled with broad in-house marketing management experience, gives him an enviable edge in developing and executing multifaceted creative marketing and communications campaigns.