Marketing and communications agencies work with clients to develop and implement their marketing strategies and campaigns. At the heart of this work are project managers.
So, what is a project manager’s role in a communications agency?
“The primary job of the project manager is to ensure deliverables make it to clients on time and within budget,” according to the United States-based Project Management Institute. This includes juggling tasks and managing deadlines, resources and team members to set priorities and work towards achieving business goals.
Flow Communications has a team of project managers responsible for a range of projects for many clients across different industries and sectors.
We chatted to some of them to find out how they manage their time, work and the teams working alongside them to ensure that all of Flow’s clients’ needs are met through the delivery of high-quality work that exceeds expectations.
Here are their 10 top tips:
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Communication between you as the project manager, the client and the team working on the project is key. Always keep the client informed. Keeping things in context is also vital – rather “overcommunicate” than “undercommunicate”, both internally and with clients. It helps everyone to stay motivated and abreast of the project. Poor communication often leads to mistakes, reduced effectiveness and missed opportunities.
2. Listen to the client’s needs and be emotionally engaged
Listening is a skill, and one that is required if you want to be an excellent project manager. Successful project managers need to be mindful listeners, especially when working on complex projects such as developing big websites for clients.
This skill allows the project manager to better identify and explore clear opportunities, and to note subtle issues and risks when working on projects of any size. In addition to this, project managers must be emotionally engaged with the work, admit when they’ve made mistakes and come up with solutions to fix them.
3. Always interrogate the brief
As a project manager, you must always interrogate the client brief and ensure the stated objectives align to their company objectives and business goals. Clients sometimes push internal tactics without thinking about the end consumer. That’s where project managers come in to advise and provide direction that will yield optimal results.
Ultimately, clear briefs bear positive results. They save time and money, because there will be fewer revisions to the project at a later stage, and good briefs inspire teams and allow them to think creatively and outside the box. Finally, they act as a reference point when reviewing the project at any point.
4. Keep detailed notes
Pro tip: always keep detailed notes to share what was discussed and agreed with your team and the client – sometimes, verbal discussions can get lost in translation, so having the details in writing helps with follow-ups and ensuring that everyone is on the same page.
5. Familiarise yourself with the project: do your research
Project managers have a responsibility to familiarise themselves with the project they’re working on in order to deliver optimal results. Do your background research, read about the company, get to know the project inside out.
6. Don’t overreact in a crisis – stay calm
People will remember if you react with panic or if you deal with the situation calmly in a crisis. Project managers are always under the microscope – they’re watched by management, clients and the teams they work with on projects. So, if your project implodes, it is wise not to rush in to respond immediately – rather stop to think about the situation, allowing yourself room to craft an appropriate response and make the best decision.
7. Underpromise and overdeliver
Being overzealous and making promises you cannot live up to in terms of a project can ruin client relationships and your business reputation. It’s wise to underpromise and overdeliver when it comes to client expectations – this means doing that little bit more and going that extra mile to satisfy the client.
8. Differentiate between important and urgent work
Project managers must be able to differentiate between work that is important and work that appears urgent but actually is of a lower priority. In most cases, you should prioritise the most important work. One way to do this is by using checklists and making sure you know what is most important to achieve each day.
9. Schedule regular meetings
In this age of remote working, it is especially important for project managers to communicate well, give thorough briefs and schedule regular meetings with their teams and clients. This is not only reassuring to all, but also adds to everyone’s enjoyment of the work.
10. Celebrate milestones
Milestones mark positive steps that have been taken towards achieving an overall project goal. So, it’s important for project managers to celebrate every milestone and reward their teams for a job well done. Acknowledging your team’s hard work also improves productivity ahead of the next milestone. Team members who feel appreciated are more likely to reflect on their past performance and come up with innovative ways of approaching the ongoing project work.