Wrong is Right / Bad is Good

June 14, 2014 // By: // 1 Comment

Marketing Communications     

Big ideas are at the heart of successful PR campaigns. So what’s the secret to unearthing big ideas? Knowing that the road to a big idea is paved with lots and lots of bad, wrong ideas.

In racing to a client presentation deadline, we panic and want the winning idea NOW. Caught in that mentality, we put a stranglehold on our creative powers by attempting to only put forth “right” ideas when we get into a brainstorm.

If a non-sports fan only knew about baseball from watching ESPN’s Sportscenter, he would think every pitch results in a home run. The reality, of course, is that for every one home run in a game, there are many strike-outs, fly outs, and ground outs. Just like in a successful brainstorm.

Hank Aaron, who held the career home run record for many years, is obviously best known for hitting home runs. But what gets overlooked is that he also had nearly 1,400 strike outs in his career…in fact, he was nearly twice as likely to strike out when he came to the plate than he was to hit a home run.

The morale: you have to be comfortable striking out a lot if you want to produce a home run.

We all remember Michael Jordan’s scoring prowess when he ruled the NBA. He scored more than 32,000 points during his career and is third on the NBA all-time point leaders list. But he also attempted more than 25,000 shots during his career. Heck, odds are if I took that many shots, I’d have made quite a few baskets, too! As youth basketball coaches often say: “You make zero percent of the shots that you don’t take.”

The morale: it takes a lot of quantity (shots attempted) to create quality (shots made).

When we enter the creative arena, we must be comfortable being wrong 95 percent of the time. As we strike out again and again by offering up bad, wrong ideas, we start to discover little elements that become the foundation to the successful winning idea.

When leading a creative session, we must not only provide an environment where all participants feel safe being wrong a lot, but we must provide the right kind of games and activities that will encourage a huge quantity of ideas. For every one big idea that gets pitched to the client, there’s probably 40 or 50 germs of ideas that landed on the cutting room floor.

The overall adage to brainstorming success: embracing the mantra that “wrong is right” and “bad is good.”

About the Author

Mark Newman

An agency partner at Hunter Public Relations, Mark taps into his 20 years of PR experience for his work with food, lifestyle and consumer products brands.