"Don't just tell people what you want them to know": AWARD School alumni Rikki Burns

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"Don't just tell people what you want them to know": AWARD School alumni Rikki Burns

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Rikki BurnsMeerkats senior creative Rikki Burns came third in AWARD School Perth in 2004. She shares the learnings that have stayed front of mind and the value of listening to industry professionals.

TCC: What learnings from AWARD School have stayed with you to this day?

RB: Find the real benefit of the product/service to the audience. Don’t just tell people what you want them to know, and expect them to listen. Give them credit, and allow them to come to the conclusion on their own.

TCC: What was your favourite brief and how did you attack it?

RB: It was a billboard brief to sell a laptop with a long lasting battery to business people. I didn’t want to just do a visual pun about battery life, so I figured the real benefit was that if you didn’t need to plug it in, you could work anywhere - including the bench under the billboard. The ad was just an arrow pointing to the bench that said something along those lines.

TCC: What was your hardest brief?   

RB: Probably the radio. I don’t remember what it was all these years later, but I do remember that I basically wrote a more boring version of War and Peace.

TCC: Now that you’re on the other side what would you have done differently? Equally what do you think was your biggest strength?

RB: I would have listened to the advice of industry professionals a little more. Turns out they probably did understand my “art”, and it’s possible that I didn’t know best. My biggest strength was probably getting a good measure of what everyone else was going to do, then figuring out how to stand apart.

TCC: Outside of AWARD School, what is your favourite project/campaign you’ve worked on to date?

RB: I recently worked on a film project for Durham Rd School, which caters to students with intellectual and physical disabilities. Hanging out with the kids there, and being able to use my skillset to help the amazing staff make a real difference in people’s lives was an experience I won’t soon forget.

TCC: Do you have a secret strategy for unlocking your creative process? Can you share any tips?

RB: I don’t think there are any real secrets… I just fill my brain with ideas, thoughts, images, etc, and hope they’ll come together when I need them to. A list of idea starters can help when I’m not getting anywhere, they'll often provide a different angle on the problem that might point to a new solution.

TCC: What sources do you look to for creative inspiration?

RB: I love docos and podcasts (especially science, investigative journalism, comedy and psychology). I like anything that gives stories to draw from that are different from the go-to Facebook shares of the day.

TCC: Who do you look up to in the industry?

RB: Creatives like Mike Edmonds and Andrew Tinning, who manage to keep the passion after many years in the industry.

People like Mel Weise who stand up for other women in the industry, and won’t allow examples of sexism to go unchecked.

Head honchos like Gavin Bain and Ronnie Duncan who retain the ability to be caring, decent people, despite their status.

TCC: What are your wider career goals?

RB: I hope to keep giving a shit about creativity and what’s best for clients, and to keep getting paid for doing that.

TCC: If you weren’t in advertising what would you be doing? 

RB: Probably something actually important, like the medical sciences.

TCC: What’s your passion outside of work?  

RB: I like learning how to make things, making things, getting bored of making things, repeat.

Places are now open for the AWARD School 2018 application workshop, taking place in Sydney on October 21 and Melbourne TBC. The workshop is designed to give hopeful AWARD School students the best chance of acceptance. Book here.

AWARD School Application Workshop