The ability to plan and deliver creative multi-stream PR campaigns means the role of project planning has also become more important.
Those of you that follow our blog may have seen our post about the importance of campaign planning and why it’s a vital skill for PR account handlers.
Increasingly, the nature of PR campaigns now means there is a blurring of lines between the different streams of communication. A shifting focus on social and digital platforms means we are now delivering multi-channel, integrated campaigns and increasingly working alongside other agencies delivering campaigns.
And, because of this requirement to plan creative multi-stream campaigns, the actual project delivery planning becomes even more significant as well.
It’s not rocket science. Effective execution and good results come from clear and considered planning and management.
In recent years there has been a burst of new platforms, apps and programmes designed to improve project planning and streamline the process.
And, because we like to share, we thought it was worth putting together a selection of our favourite tools. Some you’ll be familiar with and others we would recommend you take some time to check out.
Kantar forward planning.This is a great forward planning tool for giving you visibility around the forthcoming news agenda and global market activity. The site identifies future events, press releases, announcements, legislative developments and news items, making it easy to plan your activity to avoid clashes and conflicts, and also identify opportunities with the right news and events to maximise media pick up.
Trello is essentially a web-based project management app which is great for structuring actions and tasks. Describing itself as “a visual collaboration tool”, you can set up ‘boards’ which capture all the ideas, jobs to do, jobs underway and jobs done in an Instagram-style dashboard. You can also assign tasks to people and, in a single glance, everyone can see who’s doing what, and the progress being made. All team members can input and add details like checklists, due dates, files and comments. There are apps for iOS and Android devices, as well as the Slack platform (see below), meaning everyone can access it at all times.
Slack. It’s no good having great task planning if your teams can’t communicate with each other. Essentially this is a fancy chat room and acts as a central hub for multiple forms of messaging, work communication and file sharing. As well as integrating into Dropbox - meaning you can send and share all kinds of documents - you can set up comms channels for different streams of work and incorporate multiple channels like Google Hangouts. This is great for helping teams communicate on integrated multi-agency projects. If you want to try it out, they offer teams a free unlimited trial with 10 apps or service integrations (like Twitter, Google Docs, Dropbox, GitHub and many more).
Quip is the ultimate tool for account teams. It brings together documents, spreadsheets and task lists in one place, so teams can create, discuss and organise work pretty easily. It combines content with communication, reducing long email chains of feedback and amends, and all documents are ‘live’ so you get a real-time update of progress and input. Quip is great for launching initiatives, building spreadsheets and working closely with teammates. It also works well on mobiles – meaning it suits the way most of us access information and work across multiple devices during any one day.
Google Docs the classic alternative, and all you need is a Gmail account. This allows you to create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations as well as store documents online and access them from any computer. Its best feature is the fact that everyone can work together in the same document at the same time and there are also a host of template documents, such as meeting reports and agendas which saves set-up time. Probably more useful for smaller teams and client sharing as you can access ‘live’ documents, see where and when changes are made and chat directly inside a document.
Excel OK, I know it’s not a fancy new platform but sometimes all you need to plan a campaign is a good old spreadsheet. It’s a familiar format for nearly everyone and, with a range of templates already there, it’s pretty easy to pull together an impressive Gantt chart. From using it as a makeshift calculator to monitor budgets to tracking massive projects, it’s a favourite of mine. And there is even room to add some creativity into Excel and make some amazing and attractive spreadsheets – who knew you could add background images to spreadsheets?
I think all the above are worth having a play around with but I would love to hear of any other suggestions people have.