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Guest Blog: Chris Measures, Creative Collaborations

Playing nicely with others

No man is an island, as John Donne said, a fact that is very true when it comes to marketing. Very few agencies have all the skills to handle PR, advertising, market research, marketing, web design and social media within their team. In fact, I’d be suspicious of any that claim they can do everything – they are either bringing in external consultants (fine, but be up front with the client) or there will be weak points in their offering.


So what this means is that most creatives and marketers will need to collaborate with other agencies, as well as the client, when working on specific projects. And you might not get any choice in terms of who the client picks. Worse still you might know that (a) you can do a better job than them and (b) their incompetence or meddling is going to make your work a lot harder.


In an ideal world we’d get to choose who we work with and build a dream team of those we trust to get projects done. But in reality, creatives need to learn to play well with others and ensure that the client is happy with the finished, overall result.


From my experience here are five tips on how to avoid the project dissolving in recriminations, finger pointing and politics:


1. Be clear about responsibilities

At the beginning make it clear who is responsible for delivering what, by when, and any inputs you need before you can move forward. For example, if you are writing a website knowing the layout and page design is critical to getting the text right.


2. Plan and document everything

Don’t depend on the client to project manage, he or she might be too busy or trusting and just leave it up to the creative ‘team’. So ensure that there is a plan in place, regularly updated and available to all through Google Docs or BaseCamp. Document everything (even phone conversations) - often this is overkill but it gives a record you can refer to if needed.


3. Meet regularly

Schedule regular team catch-ups so that everyone can report on progress, raise any issues and plan next steps. These don’t have to be face to face (though kick-off meetings on big projects should be in person), as documents, screens and videos can all be shared through Skype and other communications platforms.


4. Stick to your knitting

It is incredibly tempting to meddle in other areas of the project where you have some knowledge but no remit or responsibility. Leave well alone – unless you are directly asked for your opinion it will only annoy other team members and lead them to comment on your area of expertise. The client has picked them to do their job and you to do yours.


5. Don’t get political

As soon as a project gets political it wastes everyone’s time and essentially costs you money in unbudgeted hours. If you think things are going off course raise it in your regular call, rather than sniping behind the backs of others. Be open and helpful to other team members, even if you suspect that they have ulterior motives. Focus on your work, rather than getting sucked into endless debates.


Collaboration is at the heart of lots of creative projects, and, just like your family, you can’t necessarily pick the people you work with. Therefore do a good job, be planned and take precautions, but above all play nicely.

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