What is Project Management in Advertising?

When I was a college student, I quickly fell in love with the advertising agency workplace. I didn’t know what my specialty would be, and was presented only two options: media and account management. Did you know there is a whole sector in advertising that you won’t learn about or hear much about in college? I’m here to tell you I have been there. The one field I never learned about—but now love—is project management.

When first applying to jobs, I only applied for Account or Media Coordinator positions because I believed those were the only two options for my skill set. I believed I’d excel in client relations but also thought media planning would be a fascinating challenge. I enthusiastically accepted an Account Management internship after college.

Before I completed my internship, there was an opening within my agency as a Project Coordinator. This was a field I had never heard of prior to working in the agency, but I quickly realized my skills couldn’t have been utilized better.

One of my favorite aspects of being a Project Manager is getting to work with every department. I help bridge the gap between account, creative, and consumer engagement by negotiating timelines based on client demands and internal availability. I also create estimates on how much time and effort will be put into a project, and hold teammates accountable.

To be a successful Project Manager, you have to be able to address problems head-on and provide conflict resolutions. A large problem I often run into are quick-turn projects that take up a large level of effort from the team. For these projects I have to be able to work with multiple team members to negotiate the best solution for the problem, whether it’s working with account management to see if we can extend the client’s deadline or pushing other schedules to accommodate more-pressing needs.

Cornelius Fichtner, PMP, said it best: “The ‘P’ in PM is as much about ‘people’ management as it is about ‘project’ management.” Being an effective project manager takes a lot of communication and organization skills. To be able to hold team members accountable, we have to be able to build a level of trust with them. Not only do we need to trust they will do their jobs, but they have to trust we won’t overload their schedule and force impossible demands.

To put it simply: the Project Manager’s job is to prioritize projects, negotiate timelines, rearrange tasks and adjust timelines, all while ensuring all aspects of the project are completed correctly, on time, and in budget. In my humble opinion, project management is equivalent to herding cats. Yes, you read that right: Herding. Cats.

If that somehow doesn’t scare you and actually intrigues you, it might be worth looking into a career in project management. Especially if you are great at communication, decision making, and organization. Interested in working at MBB? Keep up with our latest openings here.

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