The Unsung Heroes of Agencies: Project Managers

We all know that with every successful story, event, campaign or project, there are always individuals responsible for the behind-the-scenes work that contributes to that success.

We all know that with every successful story, event, campaign or project, there are always individuals responsible for the behind-the-scenes work that contributes to that success. In the agency setting, we have a name for these go-to, get-it-done professionals: project managers.

You Do What?

Chances are, when you tell someone you work at an advertising agency, they’ll have one of two clarifying thoughts: “So, you make TV commercials and magazine ads?” or my personal favorite, ”oh like Mad Men?” The follow-up questions usually go like this:

Person: So do you make the ads?

Me: No, the creative team does.

Person: Oh, so you work with the clients?

Me: No, the account team does. I’m the project manager.

Person: *blank stare*

Why Project Managers?

If you haven’t worked in an agency, it may not be clear what all the responsibilities of a project manager are or why an agency would even need one. Just from the title, you can probably guess that as project managers, we manage projects. Bravo. At a glance, it’s a project manager’s job to see a project through from start to finish and ensure that all aspects are completed accurately, on-time and within budget.

From the outside looking in, it may seem like a lot of the roles of a project manager performs, could either be executed by the creative team or the account team. And that’s not wrong, they could. However, one of the most important attributes of any successful agency is having an environment that clears the path for every staff member to do exactly what it is that they are best at. And that’s where the project manager comes in.

The account team should be free to focus on their accounts, nurturing and growing them, providing exceptional customer service and attention to each account. In order for them to accomplish this, they need to know that there is someone to oversee each project with the know-how to ensure that the end result is exactly what the client asked for, while staying within scope of the project.

The creative team should be free to dive into to each project with fresh ideas without stopping to review every piece of client feedback and advise on when that fits into their schedule. The creative team wants to put out their best work on every project and sometimes distractions make that difficult. Project managers keep projects on task, allowing creatives the ability to operate at their optimal level.

The Heroes You Didn’t Know You Needed

On any given day, our team is running 20+ projects through the agency for a wide variety of clients (not including the multitude of projects in the queue). With this high influx of work, it’s vital that someone knows the details of what these projects entail and how the various resources, deadlines and workloads of staff members all fit together. Sometimes, this means telling an account person that we can’t get to their clients’ project until next week, or that we’re missing key information that we cannot move forward without.

Project managers (in my unbiased opinion) are truly the unsung heroes of an agency because they have the interests of both the clients AND the agency in mind. They ensure that every client ask is delivered on in the best way possible, while managing the time and resources of the agency. It is the project managers who allow the space for every team to do what they do best.

Interested in how our project managers at ANDERSON can help execute your next creative project? Visit our website to find out more about ANDERSON’s services and capabilities and connect with us directly at