An Interview with our Project Manager, Tracey Gregory
An advertising agency can be a very hectic and busy place at times. Between new business coming in, frequent client project requests, new products in development, and just the hustle and bustle to meet all our deadlines – our team would not be able to do it without a competent and friendly project manager to hold everything together and steer the ship into port.
We have all that and more. Our project manager, Tracey Gregory, is one of our valued team members and makes getting things done on time, building strong relationships with clients, and general efficiency seem easy.
We wanted to pick her brain and ask, “What’s your secret?” This morning I brought my laptop to her office just as the first real snowfall this year was coming down outside her window – just in time for a much anticipated White Christmas.
What does a project manager do at an advertising agency?
Where do I start? [Laughs.] The project manager manages each client project that comes into the agency by assembling a timeline and budget for each task; briefing the creative team on their responsibilities to get the task done; coordinating and reviewing feedback with the client, and making sure they are happy with the finished product. Our primary goal is to make sure we are accurately delivering the clients’ key messages and value proposition through mediums and tools that make the most sense for their product or service.
How do you handle so many tasks at once?
The key is time management. I feel that it’s not necessarily a skill you learn; it’s a quality you have – almost a part of your personality. I happen to like problem solving – trying to put together a puzzle by seeing what each piece looks like, and where it fits into the big picture. Also, the endless cooperation and reliability of our team makes my job much easier than it otherwise would be. I wouldn’t be able to make it look this easy without them!
I think being respectful of my team member’s time and being understanding of their challenges helps make them feel like we are working together, instead of me just demanding things from them. I would like to think that because of this, they are more motivated to want to do their best work for the agency, and ultimately for the client.
What method do you use to make sure jobs are completed on time?
Not only do I religiously use our time tracking software Function Fox™, which has a great schedule module, I also have a comically long chain of yellow Post-It’s on my desk with “to do’s” on them. I also have a large white board on the wall in front of my desk with a list of projects and each team member’s responsibilities on them. At any given moment I probably have three schedules going at once. But there is absolutely a method to my madness – how can you forget to do something when it’s written down in at least three places?
What is the most important aspect in dealing with clients?
There are multiple things that go into this, all of which are equally as important. Regular communication with our clients in a positive and friendly manner makes them feel comfortable and confident with the agency. Also, really listening and understanding their concerns is important, and trying to decipher how to put their thoughts and comments into action. Gail is extremely good at that: really knowing how to pull out the action steps within a client conversation. I’m learning a lot from her on how to do that effectively. Building and maintaining strong relationships with our clients is the most important part of my job because it’s the most valuable to the agency. There would be no us, without them!
Tell us about the process you use when new business comes in.
First thing I do is finalize the timeline. After I gather any content or information from the client, we have a creative team briefing with clear next steps, and then it’s full steam ahead.
My favorite aspect of the job is when a client is happy and our creative work and strategies have been effective. Also, I love when everyone here at Cowley is meshing as a team and excited about the next project: it makes the day fun and makes it easy to come to work.
What is your favorite tool or gadget?
I guess I would have to say Function Fox™. It’s a fabulous tool for tracking time, managing schedules, and reporting on each project. It really has made my job much easier and much more efficient since we’ve implemented it early this year. I am able to access each project’s expended hours at any given moment.
I heard you previously worked as an Associate Producer at Animal Planet. What was that like?
That was one of the greatest experiences of my life so far. I learned so much, not only about television, but also about working the corporate world, working as a team, and building professional relationships.
Incidentally, what is your favorite TV show?
I could go on and on here. I love TV! Right now, I really like Revenge. I feel like it’s that guilty pleasure drama I really need in my life and there are twists and turns throughout the plot that always keep you on your toes. At the end of each episode, my immediate reaction is “What!” Can’t wait for new episodes in January!
And last question… What is your favorite movie?
Ah, my favorite movie of all time? Gosh that’s a hard question. I have to go with Pretty Woman. I think it’s every girl’s favorite movie – it’s just so good! I can’t resist watching it every time I catch it on TV and, I don’t know if I should admit this, but I can recite all of the lines. “Big mistake. Big. Huge! I have to go shopping now!”
Thank you Tracey! As you can see, we are all so very glad to have her around to help plans come together. Whether you have worked with us or will in the future, you will agree that she is an exemplary project manager and her insights and work ethics are a great example for any professional.