Co-creation and how to go about it

One of the more recent terms to surface in the social sector is ‘co-creation’, sometimes used interchangeably with ‘co-production’. Organisations like Nesta use the terms to describe the process of designing products or services with the people who are going to use them. Only occasionally are the term and techniques used for communications.

What is co-creation?
Co-creation basically means collaborative creation. At Poached Creative and we define co-creation as designing creative assets alongside the people we are trying to reach.

This could be:
·      young people producing anti-crime campaigns for their peers
·      people with learning disabilities building an accessible website
·      homeless and unemployed people creating a blog about their experiences.

More than a focus group
Traditional focus groups get people together, test some ideas and usually leave it up to the creatives to accept or ignore the feedback. In co-creation the ideas and content are generated, tested and approved by the group. They retain collective oversight of the product or service through the development process.

Top creatives will be involved with the process so they can hear from the audience first-hand  and bring in the professional view..

In addition to creating something that they care about, participants will also gain or practice skills in communication, team work and pitching/presentation.

The process
1. Meet with audience members. Often this will be a mixed group of different audience members, including staff and stakeholders. The workshop looks for consensus on the following questions:
·      What do we know about the issue and audience?
·      Why does it matter to us and what matters most?

2. Find the message, media and channel. Planning is the key to any successful communications project and this stage provides the foundation for PR and distribution plans. The group explores the following questions:
·      Where will our audience be, how do we reach them?
·      What’s it about? How would you say it to a friend?
·      What does success look like? How will we know when it’s good?

3. Get creative. Often this stage will take place with creative professionals – eg. writers, designers, filmmakers or photographers in the room. It will:
·      Look at what’s already out there, research content
·      Design/write/film/create social media

4. Critical feedback. This is the point where the creative is tested  with different audience members. Participants will ask the following questions:
·      Does this work? What do other people think? Are we missing something?
·      Feedback and input from stakeholders/experts
·      Amend and seek sign off

5. Launch and promote. This stage is all about getting the product out to the right people through the right channels and enlisting the help and contacts of everyone in the group.

6. Evaluate and feed back. Involving the group in evaluating the success, based on criteria agreed in stage 2, is crucial for the learning process and also to improve future products.

Co-creation techniques
Co-creation from Poached Creative starts with an audience group and a brief or theme. We facilitate groups using a range of techniques to engage them in the creative process over anything from two to twelve sessions.

Some of these techniques include:
·      open discussion, brainstorming and mood boarding
·      creating audience personas
·      future basing
·      SWOT and PEST analysis
·      distribution and PR planning
·      action planning, assigning roles and tasks
·      presentation/pitching and critical review
·      documenting progress and building networks through social media

“Co-creation isn’t about happy-clapper brainstorms and blank sheets of paper, it’s about well-channelled creative energy and structured tasks that meet a business challenge.”
Sense Worldwide (2009) The Spirit of Co-Creation: Risk-Managed Creativity for Business

For more information visit:
Poached Creative's co-creation page

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