In a single day at Helix House we are constantly at every stage of the creative process. Onboarding in the morning is the beginning of a new, beautiful relationship. It’s the end of the month so monthly content needs to come out and get posted. A client just called and is looking to change the direction of their ads – no more tigers, tigers are out! It’s owl time! You get the picture, it gets hectic. If it the clients are interacting directly with the creatives, asking for changes or demanding more or less, it can cause folks to miss the mark or overextend themselves (I can speak for myself here, it’s hard to say no!) We wouldn’t be able to accomplish half of what we do if we didn’t have someone like our Project Manager Alex Mayes to both encourage us and whip us into shape. I sat down with her and chatted about project management principles and in the process, we discovered that they were more like superpowers!
But before we get into what those exact project management superpowers are, let’s talk about the phases of any project.
First, the project, the client, and the task at hand have to be understood by the project manager. What is the goal for this campaign and what resources are needed? Who will work on this project? Do we need Indre to design out new packaging for instance. Once you know what the client is looking for, how do you do that, how do you get the creatives to make this happen.
The initial conception of the project takes all of the needs, available resources, and goals into account. Then it can be moved to implementation.
Once the project is understood and laid out, it gets moved to implementation. This is where it gets tasked out to the various creatives and anybody else who needs to get a hand on the ball. Now it’s time for them to do the work and project management takes a back seat… for a bit.
As the creative team executes the project, project managers like Alex follow up with creatives to ensure they are hitting deadlines, and have the support they need to get the work done and take on client expectations.
Follow through can get messy. The project might pivot, the client may need something totally different than what was decided during the inception phase. The project manager will work to see these new goals are met, distributing new tasks where needed.
The project has come to fruition. It is handed over to the client and reviewed with them to ensure everyone understands how it developed. “This is what we talked about, this is what we decided on,” Alex said.
Understanding is huge, especially in advertising where we have the perfect mish-mash of creative and business. A project manager has to be flexible and understand all facets of everything we do, including
It’s easy to see how understanding is needed in the process, especially in the inception stage.
Adaptability comes into play hard when we enter the implementation and follow-through phases. Taking over client expectations while things are being worked on, managing that, and answering what needs to happen is added into the process (almost starting the process all over again).
Of course, it’s not just the project manager that needs to be adaptable. “If things do go sideways, you adjust and make sure everyone knows it, clients, and the resource,” Alex said. [Writer’s note, she keeps calling us resources 🙁 ]
Alex’s wisdom knows no bounds. “Clarity,” she said. “Whether it be just that specific task or how it feeds into everything else, making sure that is as crystal clear as possible.”
The importance of communication skills cannot be overstated. While understanding gives you the knowledge of what you need, communication gives you the ability of how to do it.
Have your wits about you to not be surprised when changes or problems come down the pipe. Okay, really this is just the combination of adaptability and understanding, but dang it, we wanted a fourth discrete power! When a project manager knows the client and the creatives well enough, they can spot potential problems before they crop up like Neo in The Matrix. Now if only if Alex’s name could be rearranged into “One” because she, like Neo, is our savior, the Helix House “One.”
All of these different abilities feed into each other. Adapting is easier and more powerful when you have the Foresight to see what might be coming and plan accordingly. You can’t have effective Communication without a great Understanding of both the project, the task at hand and the creative’s mindset and workflow.
Alex breaks it down like this, “Ok, I know how I need to mold it, deliver the information to the person who needs to do it.”
Want to have someone like Alex managing your next big project? Well you can’t take her from us! But you can work with us on whatever your next digital advertising campaign needs! Alex is here to help.