Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Project Management Recognition - Getting the Love (and more) that PM's Deserve

For the purposes of this post, let's consider Project Manager and Producer roles the same thing. There is certainly no clear distinction in our industry - more on this in a future post.

Trolling around the Droga5 website, in the "Stuff" section. I found, "I Want to Marry a Producer" by Ted Royer, Droga5's Executive Creative Director. It's one of the funniest, most endearing (and somewhat creepy) things I've read recently. He discusses various intra-agency marital options: account person, client, even another creative but dismisses them all for a producer. I don't know Ted personally (not entirely sure I'd like to - I certainly wouldn't want to get too close) but he has a body of work that puts him in high-regard in the industry and, in my book, his romantic side adds to his rep.

I always appreciate it when PM's and Producers are recognized for the important roles they play. Unfortunately, recognition of PM contributions isn't the norm. If you haven't read my post Project Management Success - Where's the Evidence?!, which features a clip of Dustin Hoffman, playing Stanley Motts, the self-absorbed producer in Wag the Dog, give it a try. Hoffman delivers a hilarious set of tirades about producers and recognition.


  1. Freaky! Even though they bitch and moan, the best Creative Directors have a good appreciation for PM's.

  2. ha yea, a project without a good pm/producer is a daymare.

  3. True. I started an agency over a year ago. I used to be the lead developer at a recognizable, large agency. At the time PM's were pretty much just a pain in the ass. Without them, I could not run my business. Actually, I probably could, but I would have to stay at the office all day rather than visit clients go on sales calls, etc. So, general apology to those I misunderstood or worse. Sorry.

  4. Interesting, considering almost all of the interactive producers at that agency have left.

  5. I think what's interesting here, and I've seen this at allot of other agencies, is the lack of respect between departments. He writes an interesting love letters to PMs, but completely disrespects every other department.

    And this seems to be normal at other agencies, where account doesn't get along with Creative, Creative doesn't get along with developers, and so forth and so forth. What I've found is that its a general lack of understanding for each departments role in the organization.

    And guess who is usually stuck in the middle, Project Managers. The ones who have to be the facilitators of communication and the calming presence in the Agency.

    THis reminds me of one story, where I was a PM at very respectable Agency/Marketing firm. THe relationship between Marketing and Creative became so toxic, that the PMs literally became "runners" between the two groups carrying messages. The two heads of the group would not meet in the same room to discuss the client issue at hand, so I, as a pretty junior PM at the time, had to run between the VPs delivering messages, and ultimately augmenting (translating) the message between the two groups for the good of solving the client's issue.

    So while I appreciate his love letter to Producers, I think it shows a larger issue at Agencies, one that has the PMs stuck right in the middle. And I think perhaps, PMs are under appreciated because the problem the biggest roadblock they run into is a much deeper and more fundamental problem at Agencies that its ultimate solution is a cultural shift, not a fleet of PMs.

    So in response to this ECD's letter, I think its great he has a new found appreciation for PMs, but he has also just potential pissed off all the other departments. And those PMs at that agency will now have to deal with the other departments who are offended by this letter.

  6. Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I feel your pain. The adversarial relationships between depts or the fallout to other depts in creative-led or account-led agencies are often their undoing - or at least at the root of their retention issues.

    I've done my best, from that middle position you reference that PM's often stuck, to work as a force to align stakeholders.

    Still, I think Ted's a hoot and would rather leverage is "affection" from that no man's land in the middle than have to combat the common lack of appreciation and understanding of what a PM/Producer does.

  7. Hi, this is Ted Royer. Thanks for all the thoughtful comments. Just wanted to say that this piece was originally written for Boards Magazine, a magazine for producers. So, while I do dis other departments, it was only done in the spirit of showing my appreciation for producers and to help bring the metaphor to life. T

  8. I think Ted stays in the good-guy column