Whether you are writing an article, a pitch, a press release or even a blog post (wink, wink), don’t underestimate the power of brainstorming.  Yes, it’s one more meeting you have to schedule or attend; or another conference call you have to dial into.  But a great brainstorming session can yield big results. Here are some tips to better your brainstorming activities:

Make the time for it. Here at TVP Communications, a small group of us brainstorm on a biweekly basis. (This is even more important since we all work remotely.) It’s a standing appointment, so we always know that we have that time scheduled on the calendar. When you work in a creative field, brainstorming is a great place to come up with ideas. Shoot for the stars and then you can always dial it back if needed.

Be an active listener. Most of the time when we brainstorm, we each have a couple ideas we bring to the table and want input on from others.  But it’s also really important to listen to what your colleagues are saying and offer advice. Especially when you are part of a small team, you need all hands on deck and everyone’s thoughts to help get those words on the page or to get a journalist to open that email.  Don’t be too preoccupied with the items you need help with to listen to others.

Be a valuable participant. For example, say you are pitching an op-ed and you need to find the perfect fit. Provide ALL the information and or background to your group. What is it about? Is there a news peg? Where have you already pitched it?  This way colleagues can offer more informed advice.   You are wasting everyone’s time if you don’t pay attention to detail.  No one wants to offer a suggestion, and for you to say, I’ve already tried that.   That being said, don’t be afraid to disagree with a colleague. If they have an idea they think won’t go anywhere, and you do, speak up.  Many times we are split on what might work and what might not. A difference of opinion is important.

Don’t be afraid to go outside of your office or communications community.  We as communications professionals can benefit from advice from non-professional communicators.  Do you have a colleague in development or the English department, or even just a friend that works in a different field? Pick their brains. They can offer an outside perspective you might not have thought of previously. I routinely bounce things off my husband or sister.  An impartial third party can see things differently—which in turn can help you come up with that perfect idea.

Brainstorming with colleagues is an important aspect to any business. You will leave feeling energized and have a new angle on a possible story that maybe you thought you couldn’t place. You will get that same feeling by helping a colleague find success in their work.