By Sydney Rubin, Account Coordinator

In the PR and communications world, we’re always looking for new ways to be creative, but it’s also easy to become creatures of habit and stick with what we know because it has yielded success in the past. Sometimes, we just need to switch it up and think outside the box.

It’s hard to step out of your comfort zone and take a risk. For companies big and small, and even PR companies, breaking the cycle of comfortability will always be hard, but there’s also tremendous opportunity for success in switching things up and trying something new. It could be worth it.

Especially for small or niche brands that are still developing their identity and voice, although one of your sales tactics might seem successful after executing for a year or so, you may not have much to compare that success to. Of course we want to continue with what works, but what if there’s something out there that could work better? We will never know unless we try. This is how all of these new apps, technologies and social media platforms came to life. They were all ideas that had never been done before, but people took risks to launch them. People are usually receptive to something they’ve never seen before or something that captures their attention in a refreshing way.

So, whether you’re a big business, a small brand, or anyone that works in the communications field, here are some sources of inspiration you should consider if you’re trying to shake things up:

Turn to the past, but keep sight of the future

Trends come in waves, and usually go in and out of style every few decades. For example, the 80s are back….hard. While most of the 80s revival is in fashion, it’s important to know how and why trends come back after going out of style for so long. Five years ago, I would have never thought that chunky dad sneakers would come back in style because they were so unfashionable, but here they are now…everywhere! Over the course of the past few years, sneaker companies have capitalized by bringing back chunky styles of sneakers, and cashed in by bringing the trend to the forefront with the help of celebrity influencers. Someone was the first to do that, and it turned out to be a huge success. When looking for inspiration, glance back to what was “in” in the past, but don’t lose sight of the future. It only takes one person to try something and have it catch on, and sooner or later it can become the next big thing.

Leverage pop culture

Pop culture fashion, music, sports, entertainment and TV all influence our lives in some way, shape or form. By monitoring trends in pop culture, we can simulate those trends to fit our industry or brand. What’s everybody talking about? What themes or topics are buzzing? By looking for emerging trends in pop culture, we can also see how consumers react to these trends and see how media editors leverage them for their audiences. For example, if your target outlet publishes numerous articles about a certain pop culture topic or reference, see if you can somehow tie that into your brand. Then, you can connect a popular idea or topic everyone is already talking about to your brand in a creative way. It’s also important to stay up-to-date with media trends. The shift from print to digital and social is still in full swing, and the takeover of digital communications isn’t showing any sign of slowing down.

Shock and awe

Sometimes the best ideas come from something that’s never been done before. For larger brands that have already established themselves, and likely have more budget to take big risks, try changing up your messaging and test out some story angles that are shocking, but will likely grab the attention or reporters, consumers and other decision makers in your industry. I recommend looking for something totally new in the space, something unconventional that’s done in other industries, or something that you’ve never seen before. Maybe even think about who your target is and flip it on its head – perhaps there is a different audience you can appeal to with different messaging or a fresh new campaign. Taking risks is important because that’s how legendary ideas and campaigns come to life.