Hectic, Busy…And Lost
Being an ad agency project manager can be very hectic. Several agency tasks need to be attended to and they’re all on priority, from meeting and acquiring new clients/accounts, new product developments, conferences with clients and staff, to generally everything that it takes to meet deadlines.
Imagine a bunch of people working on all of this and more, but without…
Like you’re lost at sea. Up a creek without paddle. Stuck on a back road, with no Google Maps, but knowing you have to go somewhere.
As an ad agency project manager, it can feel that disorienting at times.
Any project manager would tell you how very hands-on and demanding his job is, and that it is easy for a team to lose their sense of direction when working with so much information.
A competent (and confident!) agency project manager has to hold everything together and find the way through.
Running a project management department gives me opportunities to be deeply involved in and contribute to the creative process at every step. It allows me to work towards fashioning a final creative for mediums such as TV, radio, websites, and outdoor media.
Generally speaking, on a day-to-day basis, I am expected to keep my team together, keep them briefed about their responsibilities, set deadlines and get things done on time, build meaningful relationships with clients, make sure they’re entirely satisfied with the finished product, and manage the entire project.
Here’s what a typical day as an ad agency project manager looks like.
The Morning: Coffee and Status Updates
My work day starts with reporting to the ad agency on time. Coffee is my drug, so I begin my day with it and read through my emails and the items on my to-do list for the day.
Mornings are generally a time to pick up from where I left off the day before, so I reply to my emails, talk to the accounts team and take updates about the status of my projects on a regular basis. After that, it is usually time to chart a plan of action for the day.
Next task? Catching up with the creative team and check on the progress they’ve made with their work on the TV scripts and visuals and how they plan to bring their ideas to life.
Because it is crucial that an agency project manager stays on top of things, I need to be in touch with several other related (or unrelated) teams. At times, my teams ask for help related to finding things that fit the creative brief. As a project manager, I help them by communicating their requirements to the concerned department.
The agency has an exciting new project lined up, and I’ve already begun work on it. I go over to the studio to meet with our studio manager. We discuss details pertaining to the designs, and lining up resources for it.
Then I work on presentations to get the team’s approval for the execution of another upcoming global-level project my team and I are expected to handle.
Many people outside the ad agency world don’t understand how much research agency project managers do to make decisions. It includes mining qualitative data from the agency’s database, plus analyzing data from external sources like newspaper and magazine sites. I do that and start assembling my findings together in a PowerPoint deck.
After wrapping up the presentation, it’s time for another round of emails and voicemails. Lunch is up next and sometimes I can grab lunch with my colleagues, but often it’s the only time I get to reply to a few more pending emails.
After Lunch: Presentation time!
Post lunch, I head to the conference room with my team to present and discuss strategies to implement the upcoming project for our client.
Once I earned the agency team’s approval, I start work on another presentation for the global project which incorporates all commercial elements. I’m building a project plan, even though we don’t always think of it like that. This works as communication guidelines for teams across various regions and help them prepare a timeline and a clear course of action for organizing and implementing the idea. As the agency project manager, I’m the one that must make sure every piece is in place.
Late Day: More Coffee and Laughs!
Around 4pm and by this time I’m usually a bit tired. So I take a 15-minute break. I get myself some coffee and interact with my team. One of the best things about my team is that despite having a busy schedule and hard days, they don’t lose their sense of humor. They all know how to take things in stride. We manage to get through eventful and demanding days by sharing a lot of laughs, which keeps the work environment alive and electrifying.
After my coffee break, I meet with a couple of advertising students looking for internship opportunities with the agency. We discuss their projects and determined a way to fit them into our scheme of things which would help them learn about the practicalities of working in an ad agency.https://www.workzone.com/blog/project-plan-success/
It’s now time for round three of checking emails and voice mails. At our agency, it’s imperative for the accounts team and project managers to answer clients before the end of the work day. We don’t want them to be restless with their queries going unanswered on the same day.
End of the Day: Project Status Updates
At the end of the day, I check with my team how their work is shaping up and whether the solution provided to their problem was adequate. I can check in on my project management software for a quick reporting update before meeting with them. Doing this gives me a chance to anticipate impending roadblocks on the path ahead of us, and chart my course accordingly for the next few days.
Being a ad agency project manager may not be an easy job, but it is exciting as there is never a dull moment at work. If you’re assertive, passionate, creative, and don’t succumb to high-pressure situations, you will do well in this position. There will be many challenges to overcome, but that is what makes it an immensely rewarding profession.
This article has been updated since it first appeared in 2014.