How Cookson is integrating creative strategy with public relations

By: Meredith Noyes

I’m a little over a month into my position as Chief Creative Officer at Cookson Strategic Communications. Since I was already sharing office space with the CSC team under my own creative design shop, the physical MOVING part of the transition was pretty easy. I basically switched my email and presto - welcome to CSC. I’d already been collaborating with the team on marketing and design projects for over a year and a half, so I didn’t exactly have to introduce myself to new people. But that is where the challenge of taking on a newly created role ends. My job: demonstrate that successful public relations also includes a creative strategy, visual design and aligned branding to enhance positive client exposure.

I’ve always designed and created stuff. It’s my jam. But as a business owner for over 12 years I’ve also become a bit of a chameleon by looking for creative solutions to complex marketing problems. In marketing, you simply cannot stop moving or you will get hit by the proverbial bus.  And as a creative thinker and doer, you’re constantly battling the stigma of “selling out.” How does one rein in all of those giant creative ideas to fit within budgets?

At Cookson, we are setting ourselves apart from other communications firms by embracing the creative strategy. It’s not a scary word, you guys, it’s actually pretty awesome. Here are a bunch of ways we are doing this.

We’re opening our minds

It is often assumed that creative equals “artsy,” which then tends to scare some companies to death. Creative is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “resulting from originality of thought, expression, etc.; imaginative:” At CSC, we use originality of thought to approach each client’s marketing problems and solve them. Creative strategy is as simple as why a certain photo is paired with a certain blog post, or as complicated as how an agency arrives at “Puppy Monkey Baby” when producing a Mountain Dew Super Bowl commercial. Upholding creative brand standards means staying consistent across the board while also raising the bar on how the brand is universally perceived. A clear brand message makes it easier for media outlets to write clearly about your company, in turn leading to more recognition. Keeping an open mind to what exactly “creative” means is by definition “creative!” CSC is raising the bar on communications by taking a creative approach to its projects, and its own brand.

We’re letting passion inspire us

And passion = love of your job. When everyone is energized by creative, it cultivates this inescapable feeling of pride in your career. By using creative strategy, we’re now making the CSC outside match the inside. This is a team of truly dedicated, talented and highly qualified individuals who get things done, so my biggest challenge has been trying to condense all of these great qualities into a few key words. Good thing I’m backed by amazing staff writers who get it. This deep dive is also how we treat branding projects for our clients - passionately.

We’re getting out the BIG ideas

Big ideas create big stories, which then make for great press. If our task as a public relations firm is to increase your visibility, don’t we want the things that are getting seen to inspire a big reaction?  We align your brand with the right story, and highlight what inspires people to actually, um, LOOK at it. Combine that with the right media outlets, and you have created gold. The CSC team boasts some seriously big thinkers, and we’re letting this big thinking work for the client.

We’re creative connectors

You know what else is creative? Connecting people. I’m serious. When you open your mind to who you know and play matchmaker between clients, contacts, and events, everyone wins BIG TIME. Keeping an open mind when forming strategic partnerships for clients is absolutely key. The right connection can make all the difference between a business formal-relationship and a free-flowing trust between client/agency. And aren’t genuine conversations a million times better than forced ones? Through creative strategy, CSC is aiming to redefine PR, one connection at a time.

As an award-winning designer, art director and overall brand builder, Meredith Noyes has spent the majority of her 15-year career helping companies tell their stories in meaningful ways. She owned her own creative design agency, MSNCreate, until merging with Cookson Strategic Communications in 2016. She can often be found at the barn riding horses with her daughter, or taking last minute trips the NYC to see The Tonight Show.