“Production manager.” When I tell people what I do, they tend to nod and say, “That’s interesting.”
If only they knew how true that is.
Here at RDW Group, there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes in the working life of a production manager than you may think.
It’s really a life of asking (and being asked), “who, what, when, where, and how?” And the details matter, because, in the deadline-driven, often harried advertising and production world, they change frequently.
So, what does a production manager do?
Generally speaking, a production manager is responsible for estimating the cost and planning the timeline of a single job or a complete campaign. Then they ensure that work moves from the account executive, through concept to final approval in the creative department, while keeping it all on track and on budget. Sounds easy, right? Well, it’s not. With myriad people and personalities involved, to say nothing of client-driven changes in scope and schedule, it’s crucial to facilitate a smooth workflow. It’s the only way to stick to budgets and schedules, especially when they’re shifting all the time.
One second I might be trafficking a digital campaign in Google Campaign Manager, then the next moment I could be organizing delivery of printed materials for a grassroots effort or coordinating the logistics of a television shoot. The ability to wear many hats and work with numerous people (in different departments within the agency as well as outside partners) is key to being effective in moving work through the creative department.
The impact of COVID-19
Nothing has challenged the boundaries of change management more than the global pandemic through which all industries are navigating. This year has certainly had its extra challenges but with the understanding and cooperation of clients and colleagues alike, we’ve pivoted to a hybrid way of accomplishing the goal. Even when we’ve been distantly working from our homes and even more acutely balancing competing priorities we’ve been extremely effective in keeping the workflow constant. Deadlines have been met with a can-do attitude and true support from everyone involved.
Being a member of this creative team means never working in isolation, even when the pandemic forced us to work remotely. Communication, collaboration, and leveraging technology are constants. Having the flexibility to accommodate shifting deadlines is an attribute the whole team shares.
One thing is for certain: Behind the scenes is never boring.
Julie is a production manager at RDW Group with many years prior experience as an advertising designer and production artist. When she’s not keeping work on track at RDW, you’ll find her renovating her house (still) and raising Cooper, a rescue puppy.