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6 tips to help you manage projects like a boss

Jun 7, 2018

For today's blog post, I am thrilled to <formally> introduce you to our newest team member and associate strategist, Cassie Cotton. As the former Marketing Brand Manager at MSU, she brings a wealth of experience in education and strategic planning. She graduated from Coe College with a bachelor's degree in marketing and public relations, and is currently pursuing her master's degree in strategic communications from Michigan State University. She is a self-proclaimed foodie and loves adventuring in the outdoors. (Fun fact: her favorite vegetable is the jicama!) Cassie has already added so much value to our agency and we know you're going to be as inspired by this as we are by her ideas every day. -- Kate Snyder, APR Principal Strategist and Owner

We have all been there. You are faced with a new challenge or communications campaign and you’re eager to jump in and get started. But it’s important to have a plan before you dive in head-first. 

I have always enjoyed finding creative ways to solve complex problems. It’s kind of like that feeling you used to get when you were the first kid in class to solve a complicated story problem that took 30 minutes to resolve. No? Just me? OK, well, you get the point. I am naturally drawn to problem-solving that allows me to exercise my desire to plan. 

I’ve gathered up a few tips I’ve picked up managing various marketing campaigns. 

Six tips that will help you manage a successful campaign: 

1.Understand what you know and what you don’t know 

… with a heavy emphasis on “what you DON’T know.” It’s important to talk to your stakeholders and really find out what they are trying to accomplish with the project. Make sure you ask a lot of questions and take great notes. 

PRO TIP: Bring a team member to a discovery meeting to help take notes. If no one is available or budget doesn’t allow, ask if you can record the conversation so you can refer to it later. 

2.Avoid scope creep.  

After you have a general idea of what’s in store for the project, set guidelines and boundaries regarding what is included and what is out of scope. This will help the whole team have a better understanding of expectations. 

PRO TIP: Make a physical list of items that are and are not included in the project. This will be handy to keep a lid on scope creep after you are a couple of weeks in. 

3.Establish a plan and schedule. 

Having a plan will help hold all members of the team accountable and help to move the project along in a timely manner. It seems like a no-brainer, but often we’re so eager to jump in to a project, we inadvertently skip the planning step or create a plan and then never reference it again. Don’t do that.

PRO TIP: Use a project managing software to help track your progress of the project. There are a few free software programs and many paid options! Try out a few demos and find one that best fits your needs.

4.Stay woke.

It is important to stay aware of what is happening outside of your project. This includes managing exterior influences and recognizing that your project does not happen in a vacuum, but also understanding the world and climate we’re living in. Be conscious. Be aware. Be intentional.

PRO TIP: Check out what is trending on social media. A quick glance at trending hashtags can give you a quick pulse on the day-to-day happenings in the world. 

5.Manage the quality.

When it comes to meeting deadlines, let’s face it, some people can get caught up in the rush and produce sloppy work. It is important to send things back for another round of edits, even if that means you have to reprioritize tasks and maybe even change a deadline. The end product is the most important, so get it where it need to be. 

PRO TIP: Determine your project priorities and devote time to the pieces that matter. Start the high-touch deliverables first to allow more time to develop thoughts and ideas. 

6.Wrap it up! 

ALWAYS do a wrap-up meeting. It is important for the project — and the team — to analyze the results and evaluate the performance. Additionally, you can discuss lessons learned and how to not only improve your processes but also how to improve your overall communication.

PRO TIP: Keep it about the project. Don’t get personal and avoid finger-pointing. And don’t just talk about the process or the deliverables. Talk about the goals and whether or not you were successful in reaching them.

You learn something from every project you do and every campaign you complete. As communications professionals, we have to be mini-experts in a whole lot of areas (or at least know how to do quick research). It is important to take the knowledge you learn from each project and incorporate it into future work. We may be in PR, but many of us spend a good amount of time on project management. With a few tweaks and tips, you can project manage like a boss.