High stakes and tight turn arounds.

High stakes and tight turn arounds.


A project manager’s perspective.

You never know what will come your way when you work in advertising. The most painstakingly coordinated tasks and schedules can become little more than color-coded scrap paper when the perfect opportunity pops up out of the blue. When a shot too good to pass up comes our way, it falls to the project managers (PMs) to be the eyes in the sky. They’re the ones rearranging the pieces so our clients can make the most of every opportunity.

In the words of Tim Gunn: “Make it work.”

We’re can-do kind of people ‘round these parts, so when we have the chance to make national impact for a worthy organization, we take it. That sometimes means putting the pedal to the metal and generating all the creative collateral in two days. Organization is the make-or-break factor for any high-stakes undertaking, and our PM Riley gave us some tips for how she approaches a project where every minute counts:

  1. Get organized and make a plan of attack to avoid any snags that come along. And trust us, there will be snags.
  2. Detail! Be meticulously detailed when you write up the expectations for each deliverable. This is majorly important when it comes to facilitating an efficient project.
  3. Most important: communication. Over-communicate with your team. Even when there’s only a short amount of time allocated to a project, you need to work in tandem with your designers, copywriters, developers, etc. Being overly-communicative with your clients will also help alleviate any confusion that pops up along the way.

It takes two to tango and four to pull off a campaign.

The collaborative nature and tight schedule of the World Ovarian Cancer Day fundraiser meant there were a lot of parties with a vested interest in making sure it was successful. TJA was the creative agency (and center of communication), Colleen’s Dream Foundation was the recipient nonprofit organization, seven Pacific Retail locations across the country hosted murals made by the Butterfly Effect, which was the nonprofit agent that facilitated these flash fundraisers. In addition to these main players, there were print vendors and overnight shippers to keep in touch with. Riley shares how she keeps communication straight between everyone involved for seamless handoffs and no missteps:

  1. Make sure everyone is on the same page across the board: the clients, account managers and team members should all have identical expectations of the outcome.
  2. Clients should receive consistent updates on the status of each deliverable. Radio silence never ends well.
  3. Identify and address any potential hiccups as soon as they occur. It’s easier to solve problems when they’re small than once they’ve exploded. Frequent communication is the key to troubleshooting.

A recap is worth $1,000. 

The fundraiser was a success. All the collateral arrived in time at the Pacific Retail destinations across the nation, and lots of posts went on social media featuring pictures of people posing against the Butterfly Effect murals. All told, about $1,000 was raised during World Ovarian Cancer Day for Colleen’s Dream, and the campaign won a 2019 PRSA Phoenix Award of Merit. But the most crucial part of any project is reflecting on the results—what went right and what can be improved upon next time. What are the most important aspects to include in a review? Riley’s so glad you asked:

  1. Compare the goals of the project to the outcomes. Provide explanations for how these goals were met and identify opportunities for improvement.
  2. Highlight any eye-catching issues and successes so the team can remedy or replicate them next time.
  3. Memorialize successful processes so they can be employed in the future. Share these internally with the team so everyone can benefit from the knowledge.

Give your PMs some love (and take a page from their book).

We know we’d be lost without the scheduling savvy of our PMs and their on-top-of-it-all-ness. Just for fun, we also asked Riley to share what would make a PM’s life easier as well as what we can take from her process and apply to our everyday lives.

  1. It’s important that the team communicate with the project managers, of course, but it’s also vital that they communicate amongst themselves. If you’re working on a project, explain your thought process, and share any suggestions you have before you hand it off to the next person.
  2. We know it’s no fun to admit you’re struggling, but it truly makes everything easier in the long run if you’re upfront with any issues that arise. Your team won’t judge (at least not too hard), because everyone is working toward the best possible outcome.
  3. It’s corny, we know, but have fun with your tasks! It makes work interesting, it keeps you engaged with the projects and, oftentimes, clients will end up loving adventurous takes on their brand.
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