Content: Why Project Management is So Important
Let’s be honest: A career in digital is not for the faint of heart. While you may not be slaying dragons and capturing unicorns, our jobs often feel like a slogfest through political complications, bureaucratic objections and a complete lack of education.
So what’s a digital strategy wizard to do? How do you fight for your right to party at the end of a successful (on time and on budget) digital project?
Make the Beastie Boys Proud
If you’re running a web, app or portal project, you need a project manager. Often the most overlooked role on a team (delegated to creatives who are busy managing creative aspects, or managers who are busy managing others and don’t have the time) project managers can and will make your life simpler. At Aha Media, we have two dedicated project managers who manage writers, deadlines and deliverables.
Last week, I was privileged to deliver a breakout session at the Digital PM Summit in Austin, TX. Called “How Not to Let Content Set your Hair on Fire,” I talked about our experiences at Aha Media with creating content and content strategies for clients like Children’s National Medical Center, Time, Inc. and Johns Hopkins University. Working on hundreds of websites, portal projects and apps gives us a really clear understanding of how to project manage a digital project—from the content angle, of course! Check out the slides.
Here are 7 strategies that will make you successful at running content projects:
- Pick the right type of content strategist or professional. I can’t tell you how many meetings I’ve been in where I was told the client needed a content strategist, and what they really needed was a writer. Or, the other way around. So make sure the content professionals you have working on a project have the experience and knowledge they need to. There are editorial and brand content strategists and there are technical content strategists. Talk to the content professional you are working with to make sure he or she understands the needs of the project and how content will play a role.
- Define clear roles and responsibilities. Make sure the content professionals understand their roles. Content people are pretty used to managing projects on their own, so when you have a PM, make sure they understand how he or she will help define roles and success.
- Identify a scheduler. At Aha Media, we sometimes have to coordinate more than 50 stakeholder interviews for hundreds of pages of content. Enter Marlie Brill, our dedicated scheduler. Her job is to make sure that our writers meet with those stakeholders to get the information they need to create juicy content that converts your users to paid customers. She also ensures that edits happen in a timely and efficient manner and that approvals are documented, in case something comes up later.
Weekly meetings about content ONLY. There are so many meetings on a digital project. Having a separate meeting about content may seem like too much, but trust us, it will save you time in the end. For our work with Time, Inc., we had weekly meetings between our PM and client just about content, so they could work out any kinks. If there were any questions for designers, they were forwarded to them immediately after those meetings and sometimes the designers joined the call! It was an important way to write close to a 100 pages of content in just 10 weeks.
Be aggressive about editing and approval timelines. Let people know when you are going to expect things from them, and what will happen if projects fall into a yellow or red light situation.
Define collaboration; not technology. Basecamp is a tool, as is Google Hangout, Trello or any other form of collaboration software. Collaboration is not having those tools; it’s getting people together to solve problems. Make sure the technologies help you do that. They may help shape interactions but they don’t define them.
Get in the same space. We always tell our writers, “There aren’t extra points if you guess.” Pick up the phone, ask the question, get the right answer. With content, there are thousands of details, it’s important to get them all right.
Enjoy the SlideShare and definitely let us know if any of these tips help you as a PM on content projects.