PR Deadlines

Turnaround times. If you thought college deadlines were rough, you're in for a whole new world when you get into PR and marketing.

Whether or not your agency charges rush fees, just know that everything is going to be rushed. Like, crazy rushed. To the point you'll continually be reviewing the finished product for  typos and errors, shocked at how few, if any, there are.

Whether it's a look book, ad, fashion show, or blogger campaign, there will be aspects of it that are hair-raising and stressful. No matter how much you prepare and pre-plan, there are so many pieces and parts, other players, and people you are relying on for approvals, product, content, or creative, it's tough to pull everything together in an extremely structured, organized way.

When I first got into the game, the agency I worked for was very event focused. We were producing fashion shows, marketing campaigns, shock-tactic guerrilla campaigns, working with reality T.V. shows, and the like. I just thought the agency was full of  big idea people; coming up with grand schemes and barely pulling them off by the skin of their teeth. It was actually one of the reasons I left that agency. It was too stressful for me. I hated constantly planning events, trying to be incredibly controlled and on-top of everything, only to find the success of everything teetering on one celebrity, a photographer, or an alcohol vendor at the last minute.

However, as I grew in my career and worked at a few more agencies, I came to discover it was just the nature of the industry. That first agency had actually been great. They were big idea people and they were pulling it off. The stress factor and pulling things together at the last minute comes into play in every facet of the game. So, from my retrospective glance, it was better to be going big. (Might as well have something real to be stressing over, plus the payoff was so much better.)

My advice is this: Yes! Pre-plan. Prepare. Get everything as pulled together as you possibly can. Create a spreadsheet of deadlines and checklists. If it's a photo shoot for a look book, secure the location, get the necessary permits, secure the photographer, secure the models (put a hold on back-up models), secure hair and make up, secure the stylist, put together the call sheet, purchase all of the non-perishable snack and drink, book the catering, discuss the game plan with your internal team. Assign roles and make sure everyone knows what they're responsible for, especially the go-fer who will be the person running to Target for anything missed or forgotten. Finalize details with the external team. Is the stylist bringing a steamer? Or do you need to account for that? Confirm with the photographer when you need final images. Confirm with the graphic designer when you'll need the first draft of the look book for review. Confirm with the printing company when and where you'll need the look book shipped. Et cetera, etc.

You will go through all of this and the stylist will forget the steamer (no problem, you have a go-fer), the hair person will forget their color hair chalk (ditto), the model will look pudgy and not fit the samples quite right (the stylist can handle this), and the photographer will take an extra day or two to get the edited images to the graphic designer - pushing everything back - and requiring the printing company to have to send the finished product directly to your hotel in Vegas, where you will have to pick it up and personally deliver to the client's trade show booth just hours before the show starts.

The thing is - had you not preplanned, you wouldn't have made it at all. All of the hiccups along the way would have been terrible set backs. But, since you did prepare, and you anticipated hiccups, you were ready to roll with it.

That's the last key thing: Be prepared to roll with it! People make mistakes. An amazing stylist can forget to bring their steamer. It happens. It never helps a stressful situation to snap at someone - especially because you are (1) representing your client and (2) probably want to work with that person again. Prepare for crap to hit that fan and have alternative solutions for everything you possibly can. If someone truly drops the ball (like calls in sick), find a replacement as quick as you can and just don't work with them again. It is what it is, and while, yes, it will get stressful, there is no need to get nasty. It doesn't help anything. An overworked graphic designer is going to much more likely to burn the midnight oil to finish your look book if you treat them with empathy, respect, and a Starbucks gift card, than a frazzled demand to finish it.

Come up with big ideas, plot out a great way to execute them, plan for hiccups, and stay sharp, but cool. C'est tout.