Process: It Can Make or Break a Health-Care Advertising Project

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Bebe Bernstein
Bebe Bernstein



Project Management in Health-Care AdvertisingDay in and day out, almost everything about the health-care advertising business changes. Every day on the blogs, in the trades or at the water cooler, folks talk about the trends, new strategies, media initiatives and bold ideas to keep up with the constantly evolving advertising landscape.

Health-care advertising is no longer an interruptive medium, but it is now an experiential one in which the end users or consumers are in charge of content. To adapt to this phenomenon, many agencies are restructuring their departments and staff yearly to keep up with this revolution. They’re also creating new departments, new strategies and, yes, new positions with titles such as content strategist, social media guru and app specialist — none of which existed a decade ago.

With all of the agencies trying to keep up with the shifts, fads and innovations, process is easily lost in the shuffle. After all, an agency can have the greatest strategy, the best creative and the latest technology, but it’s all for naught if their ideas can’t get out the door or implemented on a day-to-day basis.

Unfortunately, as you talk to people in the business, it seems that project management is being neglected amid the unrelenting drive to innovate. Here’s a typical pharmaceutical ad agency process:

  1. A client requests something innovative in the digital space.
  2. Your creative and digital teams meet and exceed expectations with out-of-the-box ideas, strategy and creativity.
  3. After a history-making presentation, the client buys the whole package.
  4. Your agency throws a big party for selling such an incredibly innovative new media idea.

Now fast forward six months when someone drops the ball in a PRC meeting, or someone doesn’t fact-check the indications. How did this happen? It happened because no one considered the process significant. As a result, that awesome idea from six months ago completely falls to pieces, and your agency was just put on notice by the client. Sound familiar?

The questions arise. How can this be avoided? How can an agency make sure that its project management team is up to meeting the demands of a 21st century project? How can this team be prepared and ready to manage any job?

Here’s how your project management team can consistently perform like an all-star group:

  • Recognize their importance. The first step in building a project management team with an unequaled process is to make sure that the team is as critical to the agency as any other team. A lot of agencies insist they do, but then relegate this team to a trafficking role.
  • Recruit top talent. You staff your creative, account and strategy departments with the best in the industry. The same should go for operations and project management. Don’t neglect this. Bring in the most experienced multimedia people to drive your projects. Asking them, “Do you know digital?” no longer cuts it. What you should ask is, “What digital campaigns have you worked on that moved the needle?”
  • Involve your project management team every step of the way. Many agencies bring in project managers later in the process and expect them to play catch-up. But they can’t be expected to do a top-notch job unless they’re involved from the creative brief all the way to project launch.
  • Make sure the team interacts with the client. Introduce your project management team to the client so the client will know exactly with whom they’re communicating. Your project management team should also interact on a regular basis with the person in the client’s office responsible for project flow.

Try taking these steps, then stand back. With the right expectations, your project management team can make sure that your vision and hard work results in a project you can all take pride in.

Topics: Agency Process

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