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Cooling Down Hot Projects

Taylor Brazell – Account Executive

The workload in an agency tends to ebb and flow a lot, with some days being packed while others are a little lighter. During the busy days, especially when multiple projects are due at once, work needs to be managed intentionally to ensure deadlines are met without the agency team becoming overwhelmed. These three tips have proven to keep hot projects from boiling over.

Prepare as Much as Possible

No matter how organized an agency is, rapid turnarounds are always going to be part of life. Fear of a quick deadline should not stop the agency or client from taking advantage of last-minute opportunities or taking the extra time to make sure a project is perfect. Instead, both parties can make space for unexpected extra work with some organization and preparation.

For starters, the agency should be staying on top of ongoing campaigns and avoiding procrastination. This ensures that work with a little bit of buffer time can stay that way and not turn into additional hot projects. Clients and agencies should also be communicating openly about upcoming work. Even if the job can’t be started yet, knowing it’s coming allows the agency to save some extra time and bring awareness to everyone on the team involved with the project so they can note it in their schedule. There’s nothing worse than promising a project to a client by a certain deadline only to find out the team will be out of town, on an offsite shoot or engaged in other clients’ work making the promise impossible to uphold.

Prioritize Projects and People

“When it rains, it pours” tends to prove true with hot projects, but it’s nothing that simple scheduling and delegation can’t help with. Prioritizing which projects are worked on first isn’t as simple as looking at the final deadline. Each job will have its own unique steps, and some require more time than others. A layout for a brochure that needs to be reviewed by the client, printed and shipped to a trade show by a certain date is much more time-sensitive than an eblast layout that needs to be reviewed and sent by that same date. Consider and account for all the factors that can slow down a project from the beginning to avoid missing important steps.

Explicit job roles within the agency team are also important when a deadline is quickly approaching. The more people involved means more schedules to deal with and more time before the work is completed. In these situations, one person will run point and coordinate with other team members for strategic direction, copy, creative and proofing as needed with deadlines clearly stated for each person. This streamlined process still utilizes the full power of the team while keeping content moving at the necessary pace.

Communicate with the Client

Transparent, proactive communication is always important between the agency and the client, even more so when due dates are quickly approaching. One of the more apparent changes when deadlines are around the corner is how email communication is done. Often, instead of separate email chains for each file, the account executive will condense everything into one email with a bullet point listed for each attachment. The list will include any notes on the project as well as what’s needed and by when. Noting actions with the project name and deadlines in the subject line also helps, for example: “For Review: LePoidevin Marketing Website Updates DUE MONDAY.”

In addition to informing the agency of any upcoming projects, clients should be upfront about the process on their end. Many industries, including pest control and veterinary medicine, are highly regulated in what they can and can’t say, so a legal or regulatory department within the organization may also have to review each piece of content. Knowing about this in advance helps the agency to budget more time for this extra step. There are other factors that can impact timing on the client side, and each company will have a slightly different process for reviewing work. As the agency team members get to know the nuances of that process, they can continue to improve the flow of work between both parties.

Agencies need to be transparent in their process as well. There are the rare occurrences when a client’s ask needs some adjusting to be possible within the agency’s workload. In those situations, the agency needs to first be careful not to overpromise, then work with all clients that have upcoming deadlines to see what can be moved around a bit to make sure everyone’s needs are met.


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