We all need to master project management

About the author

Ann is a co-founder of PR Academy. Her special areas of interest are internal communication, change management and project communication. MSc, Dip CAM, MCIPR

I was glued to BBC MasterChef last week, Simon was a sure winner, but the field was strong. I knew that runner up Tony Rodd (@TonyRoddUK) would make it to the final. Why? Because as far back as week one he was cooking to a Gantt chart!

It goes to show that we are all running projects every day – of course they don’t all need a Gantt chart.  So,  what ways can those of us in PR and communication benefit from a bit of understanding of project methodology? Here are my top three:

1.  You can’t do it all. When we run our project management course, one of the first things we talk about is the balance between cost, time and quality/scope. The client has changed his or her mind and wants it gold platted? That’s fine but there is an impact on cost and time. You now need it yesterday? OK, but we need to either throw more people at it or reduce the scope/quality. Us communication folk can be a bit too nice for our own good – we never want to say no! Understanding this balancing act at least helps us to have an informed conversation about what is and isn’t possible.

2.  You need to get the requirements right. Anyone remember that episode of The Apprentice when Sir Alan Sugar sent them off to buy an anatomical skeleton? I blogged about it at the time.  The objective was to buy it as cheaply as possible and Sir Alan penalised a team that came back with a cardboard flat pack one.  Thing was, he had never specified what it had to be made of. Time spent buttoning down exactly what the client wants- or exactly what you want – can save a lot of time and heart ache further down the line.


3.  You need to understand the risks. As communicators we are usually good at thinking about what can go wrong – after all, that’s what can impact on reputation. Project management teaches us how to capture, track and deal with risk in a planned way. This is one of the exercises that I enjoy the most on our course. Mary, who runs it with us, always reminds us that we should think about risk and opportunity – i.e. can you turn something around and make it work for you?

So, with a bit of project management experience under your belt, you could not only be a more effective PR or communication professional – you could be the next Masterchef winner!