EPIC's PMs make order from the messiness of the creative process.

Untangling Yarn And Redefining Creativity

author: Kathy Blazek

Written by: Kathy Blazek

Project Manager

02.17.2021

  • Best Practices
  • Culture

The Importance Of Project Managers At An Ad Agency

Before coming to EPIC Creative, I never would have thought I’d have a place in the creative world. Even with an interest in interior design and certainly having an appreciation for art, I wouldn’t describe myself as particularly artistic or creative. (Seriously, a toddler could draw a better stick figure!) My strengths confidently lie in the area of more “type A” traits: being very organized, a serial perfectionist, and a passionate lover of to-do lists.

I wasn’t sure I’d fit within such a beautifully colorful and imaginative space like a marketing agency. The things I loved seemed too linear, too analytical, and far too left-brained. After being hired as a project manager at EPIC in 2018, I spent a lot of time leading up to my start date wondering if my role would be much more than note-taking and administrative tasks, much like jobs I’d had before. I knew I would be happy in this position based on my skills and traits, but I was worried I’d be overshadowed by the artistic talent of those around me. I mean you’ve got the vision of the graphic and web designers, the clever wordsmithing of the copywriters, the much more analytical and logical brains of the web developers, the freedom and intellect of those behind the cameras and video editing software, and the mindblowing inventiveness of the animators.

I wasn’t sure I’d fit within such a beautifully colorful and imaginative space like a marketing agency. The things I loved seemed too linear, too analytical, and far too left-brained.

By lunchtime on my first day and every day since, however, I’ve been happily proven wrong. My role as a project manager at EPIC serves as one of the most essential pillars needed to keep the agency operating smoothly and successfully. I wasn’t hired for my artistic skill or creative talent (thank God) — but project managers make it possible for those artists to shine. And our behind-the-scenes skills are creative in their own way.

There’s No Average Day

If you were to ask me what I spend my days doing and expect a short and simple answer, that would be nearly impossible. Every day is truly different, which requires creativity and adaptability. Some days it’s all about the numbers: building out estimates for upcoming proposals or projects, preparing invoicing worksheets for multiple clients, and tracking every project budget to keep the agency profitable. On other days you’re nit-picking and carefully reviewing full product catalogs and brochures, website wireframes, print and digital creatives for media placements, social posts, video scripts, or even inspecting military challenge coins.

There are even days where your sole purpose is just getting through the day with your brain going a million miles a minute in multiple different directions, providing each department what they need to be successful, wearing a variety of hats while jumping from project to project, and doing it all with a smile.

Working Behind The Scenes

A huge part of being a project manager is developing and maintaining positive relationships with many different personalities across each department. You soon find as a PM that you really do catch more flies with honey. Our success depends on our teammates succeeding, and there is no better feeling than seeing that come to fruition. Even on the not-so-awesome days, we push it all aside and find ways to help and encourage each other, because that’s what’s needed to keep things moving forward.

Hand us the biggest bundle of tangled yarn, and we will have that baby unraveled and weaved into the most beautiful sweater you’ve ever seen.

From start to the finish, a PM is involved in every aspect of every project, and the organized, control freak in each of us LOVE IT. Hand us the biggest bundle of tangled yarn, and we will have that baby unraveled and weaved into the most beautiful sweater you’ve ever seen. And behind the scenes, there are 50 other bundles of yarn, just like yours, that we’re tackling simultaneously.

Seeing Your Value

It’s commonly said among my fellow PMs that “None of this could get done without you,” and on the days where I feel drained and undervalued, this saying speaks to me. I had spent so much time being concerned that I’d be viewed as “less-than” or nonessential because I didn’t have the same artistic or creative skills and talents as others in the agency. But the reality is this: our jobs allow the traditional “creatives” to work their magic, meaning we’re just as essential.

And among the PM team, we share skills and experience and seek guidance and advice without judgment. We’re always ready to remind one another that yes, we are vital parts of this process and even on our worst days, we are all in the same boat—rowing towards the same shore.

Kickstarting The Creative Process

With every new project, it’s us—the skillful yarn untanglers—that tip the dominos to help bring all of our projects and campaigns to life and keep things organized for all our right-brained friends. Our roles as project managers allow us to touch and develop relationships within every department in the agency. Working closely with the various departments in the agency offers a collaborative and supportive space for us to not only drive projects through the system, but also to explore the creative sides of ourselves by being encouraged to share our thoughts and ideas without judgment.

We … witness the magic of just a mere concept—a sliver of an idea—as it evolves and transforms into a beautiful and impressive finished product.

We are part of nearly every creative meeting, and witness the magic of just a mere concept—a sliver of an idea—as it evolves and transforms into a beautiful and impressive finished product. It is what makes the work we do for our partners way more than just “client work.” We help the story of a company come to life. The companies, the people, and the stories become a part of our everyday lives, and we couldn’t love it more.

Work Hard and Be Nice to People

Subscribe

close video player