Right said Fred: "an essential guide to modernising your PR team workflow"
A new step-by-step guide to overhauling workflow is a must read for anyone in the business of public relations business. Frederik Vincx has published a guide to modernising your agency or communication team.
”We’re all striving for the attention of the fickle consumer. And you are not just competing against other PR teams for budgets, but also against advertising, digital, and marketing,” said Fred.
There’s lots of theory written about the future of public relations and change management. By contrast Fred’s 7,000 word blog-epic is packed with practical advice to overhaul your processes and work smarter.
Fred has strong credentials in this area. I worked with him and his team at Prezly to develop #PRstack.
“Change isn’t easy. It takes time. Hence, this isn’t a typical 500-word 10-tip blog post,” he said.
He’s not wrong. I’ve had to stretch a summary to 900 words and 18-points.
If you like this summary you’ll want to check out the original post and illustrations. In fact its so good you’ll want to print it out.
Here are the 18-points.
#1 Make continuous improvement your goal
Changing your workflow shouldn’t be one gigantic project. Just as work needs to be broken down into manageable chunks, so must workflow improvement.
#2 Assemble a workshop to map your workflow
To improve something, you first need to understand the current situation. The bigger your organization, the more workflows and processes you’ll have. Make sure to represent this diversity in your workshop.
#3 Brainstorm visually to include the whole team
Participants first write their ideas without discussion on Post-it notes. After a few minutes, everyone explains their ideas one by one and puts them on the wall. Afterwards, the participants cluster all similar ideas and create labels for each cluster.
#4 Tackle one workflow at a time
You might already feel that there’s a whole lot to cover. In all likelihood, it will be too much for your team to improve all the workflows at once. Map each sub-workflow with the Post-up technique.
#5 Document your workflow overview
Keep this visual overview of your workflow. You will want to get back to the overview later in other workshops. Make sure you choose a dedicated spot, where your work will be safely preserved.
#6 Track process throughput to understand what really happens
You can’t improve what you don’t measure. It will be much easier to uncover errors and bottlenecks if you keep an overview of your work throughput. It will let you see what work is ready to get started, what work is in progress, and what work is done.
#7 Figure out where you are wasting time and resources
Is work getting sent back? Are clients complaining? You will be surprised at how much waste your company creates. Avoid waste at all costs. Directing your energy on creating value instead of waste is the direct route to higher profitability.
#8 Find frustrating tasks
Many factors contribute to employee happiness, but the most relevant one you can tackle right now is making sure employees do valuable work. The easiest way to find out what that is? Ask them. Which tasks do team members detest? What work do they consider to be the most boring and repetitive?
#9 Pick experiments
You now have an overview of all the tasks your team currently does. You will also have an indication of which tasks are valuable, which ones are frustrating, where the team is making mistakes, and where bottlenecks are happening.
#10 Do a low-risk pilot
Start with a test project with a small team. This will help you to learn fast what works. It probably won’t be the best idea to experiment with a high stakes project with the difficult client and the impossible deadline. Choose a relatively safe project for which failure could be an option.
#11 Choose small, agile, diverse teams
Amazon assigns tightly focused, small teams to solve one problem at a time. The Agile software development method has a similar approach: the recommended Agile team size is between five and nine members. Although size is important, the more diverse your team, the better the results.
#12 Keep momentum up with regular check-ins
Move fast and stay focused. Instead of having long weekly or monthly meetings, opt for frequent short meetings. This approach has its merits in software development. Agile software development teams get together once a day for the shortest amount of time possible.
#13 Find and compare software in online
Review the problems that you’re trying to solve and make a quick list of your software requirements. Highlight what’s essential and what’s nice-to-have. PRstack.co is the best place to begin your search. It is a crowdsourced catalog of 250+ PR tools and 48 guides.
#14 Trial software
There are usually two ways to assess whether software is a good match: you can test run it (a trial) or you can let an expert show you around the software. A trial can take several hours, whereas a product demo takes about half an hour. Start with the latter: get a product demo and if you like what you see, ask for a test account.
#15 Test before you invest
So you found software and you want to start using it? At this point, you’re still trying to figure out whether the tool will actually help you improve workflow. You only want to use it for your pilot project with a small team. Try to get a free trial of the software.
#16 Create a learning culture
The PR industry is changing so fast that change is becoming inherent to the job. Your team needs to keep up with and swiftly respond to evolving consumer behavior. Hence, it’s necessary that change becomes an organizational capability.
#17 Train the team
Are project teams convinced about the value of a new workflow? If not, how can you build credibility? Start by documenting it. Processes that are documented are easier to teach to new hires and make it easier to create quality checklists. It is also important to take the time to teach the improved workflow to team members.
#18 Get professional help
Increase your chances of success by hiring an expert consultant to help you kickstart the process. This expert will give you advice tailored to your situation and will keep you motivated to follow through with making improvements.