Next PR account Hanna Bautz tells Doug Simon that her top tip for being an effective project manager in communications is "to see yourself as a strategic connector, so that means being an extension of the client's team."

Bautz says that project management is often undervalued in PR. That's because "it's easy to overlook the importance of building in structure and building in that time for reflection. So, where PR teams can really create value for their team is by carving out that time to have introspection, creating structure around making sure that we're taking the time to reflect on our results to date."

She also says while managers need to put together a strong foundation for their work, they also have to be nimble. Plus, she stresses the creative side of project management. "I would argue that project management is inherently creative because it's about creating a structure where none exists."

As an example, Bautz cites the "golden triangle of project management," a concept she learned when studying for her Project Management Professional Certification. "Imagine you've got your triangle. There are three constraints and that is schedule, cost, and scope." Tweaking any of those constaints impacts the quality at the center of the triangle. "An example that a lot of PR pros have seen recently is with budget cuts, right? So the cost constraint of our golden triangle is shrinking. But rather than compromise quality as project managers, we can get really creative about how we’re approaching scope for projects."

Bautz also discusses the tie between project management and lead generation. "I think there is this common misconception in PR, we get a bit of tunnel vision thinking about brand awareness, because ultimately as PR pros, that's what we're closest to. But when you take a step back and put yourself in the shoes of an exec, what they're concerned about at the end of the day is driving their bottom line, driving sales and closing leads."

She says she has "been surprised when I've asked clients about where they're generating most of their leads. It's definitely worth taking the time to have those conversations and then ensure that we, as project managers, are mapping every one of our PR objectives and tactics back to that ultimate business objective."

As for mistakes project managers should avoid when communicating with clients, Bautz says that the biggest one is "assuming what works for one client will work for every client in terms of communications." Another common error is "looking at your client, your day-to-day contact, like they're in a vacuum. The reality is they've got a team, they've got a boss. Even CEOs have bosses. So, it's so critical that we're giving them the tools that they need to be successful with their broader team."

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