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Tuesday Tips: Managing Your Managers in An Agency Environment

by guest blogger Lauren Silverman

In PR, it’s not uncommon to wear a few hats over the course of the day; one minute you’re a writer, the next an event organizer, and you’re always a juggler. Balancing work for multiple clients and managers requires not only the right organizational skills, but good communication with higher-ups. Here are a few tips to stay on top of your tasks and “manage up.”

Read Your Relationships
Take responsibility for the relationships at your PR agency. Get to know what works best with each member of your team. Does your direct report prefer written detailed progress memos or just email updates throughout the day? Do your peers like to meet to divvy up tasks within the team? Find the methods that work best up and down the chain of command to keep work flowing, clients happy and the office humming along.

Prioritize
One of the most challenging (and exciting!) things about PR is how often tasks spring up on a moment’s notice. A day that seemed slated for press release writing and a meeting or two can be derailed when a client announces they need a major task done by end of day. Throw in clients from different time zones, and before you know it, your day just got hectic! Take a deep breath, you CAN manage this by making sure to confirm deadlines and priorities with your higher-ups. When in doubt, ask your manager to rank priorities, and in the case of competing tasks from different managers, be proactive by asking them to make the call, — before the 11th hour.

Be Clear on Deadlines
Always ask for specific deadlines; then, strive to exceed them. For a multi-day project, keep your managers in the loop as other things come up. “I’m still planning to deliver the draft report by Friday, but I’ll need to spend this afternoon on Sharon’s research,” is a subtle reminder to your managers that you’re multitasking as much as they are, and that you’re responsive even in a dynamic environment.

Anticipate Tasks Before They Happen
At a busy PR agency, not all assignments are going to be spelled out in advance. It’s helpful to anticipate and complete some tasks you’ve already become comfortable with. Does your management team have to assemble a report at the same time every month? Make sure all useful files are up-to-date and easy to find. Offer to assemble contacts, or update a media list before a big media relations campaign. Not only does this alleviate your manager’s stress in the moment, but will help make your tasks more seamless in the future.

Communicate
When you’ve completed a task or assignment, let your manager know before you move on to the next project. Don’t assume she realizes something’s put to bed. If you hit a roadblock that might delay a deliverable, make sure to communicate that also, but be solutions oriented where possible. (“We may be short-staffed for the event; shall I ask Tom to be on standby?”)

Are there other techniques you have found to be effective when juggling your tasks?

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