Under Pressure

pres·sure /ˈpreSHər/ The force exerted on a given area.

I’ve had one of those weeks where Queen’s “Under Pressure” has become a ballad inside my head because I can’t seem to catch up. We’ve all been there. It is what we love about working in the communications industry: the fast pace, multiple projects, varying client dynamics, problem solving on a daily basis, etc. However, when things start to really heat up mistakes are often made, which can damage client relationships. Whether proofing errors, email faux pas, quality issues or stepping on toes, it is vital to take a pause.

  1. Take a deep breath and step away from all things needing a power source. Walk the block or get a cup of tea, coffee or water. Give yourself a five-minute timeout.
  2. Find out what the client really needs and when they really need it. Many times after speaking with a client who asks for a document, messaging or strategy by “end of day” this may not be the case. They may actually need it for a noon meeting the next day. Asking for a bit more time often allows for checks and balances and delivery of a quality product.
  3. Know the players involved and who the ultimate decision maker is for the project. This may save multiple reviews or a last minute change of direction, as well as speed up the approval process.
  4. Take the conversation offline and pick up the phone. It is easier to have a conversation with client via phone or in person where you can discuss issues, gather information and problem solve more collaboratively. And it saves time!
  5. Clearly define next steps and set expectations for reviews, approvals and timelines.
  6. Determine a format for recap reports with action items to clients and your internal team. Ask how to follow up to make sure items are moving forward.
  7. Regroup with your internal team and clearly define roles, next steps and timing for the final product.
  8. If something can’t go through the proper proofing channels prior to going to the client due to tight turnarounds, tell the client it hasn’t been properly reviewed and clearly mark as a draft.
  9. Mistakes will be made even with the best intentions in mind. Own and fix what you can and then move on.
  10. Every project has things that work out well and others that are challenging. Don’t forget to debrief and talk through lessons learned.

TGIF! Amy Moynihan is a senior director of communications at GroundFloor Media. She’d love to hear your tips for taking a pause and dealing with pressure. Follow her on Twitter @amoyn

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