I should start this post with a confession: I love due dates. I enjoy being able to plan things in advance, and I hate being late. Whether it’s for a movie, or for a major project, I appreciate punctuality. Sometimes I’ll even set due dates for myself on open ended projects, otherwise it will never get done.
So with this in mind, you can see why missing deadlines can cause some stress. And one of the first things I learned about marketing is that nothing will ever be on time. Ever. The sooner you accept this, the sooner you can learn to deal with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone involved in marketing is lazy or bad at their jobs. Quite the opposite. It’s just the nature of the beast that ensures that deadlines will constantly be changing. Offers change, different mediums have different demands and deadlines, and every single thing has to go through about a million rounds of approval.
At first, these sudden changes were exhilarating. It was exciting to have to drop everything and make a last minute switch to an entire campaign. I saw it as a challenge: Spot the points in your campaigns that will be effected, figure out exactly what needs to be changed, and how, and then do it as quickly as possible while still making sure everything stays error free.
Now, however, after I’ve been through a few less exciting delays, I’ve learned that delays aren’t fun for anyone. Most of the time it just results in twice the work, which may or may not be switched back again at a moments notice. Sometimes projects you’ve spent days on will get bumped once, twice, three times. Remember my first solo brief I was excited to work on? Well the project might not even mail out until after I’m gone – in August. For someone who loves their deadlines, this can be very stressful.
Another quick lesson I learned was that just because one department asks for a change by a certain day, doesn’t mean that the next group you talk to will think that it can get done. It’s one thing to rewrite some copy and send it out to be changed, but according to the technical guys who can make it happen, there’s no small thing as “one tiny change” in their world.
The difference in expectations on what can be done and how soon between different groups requires learning a knack for managing expectations and learning that it can be okay to create false deadlines. These buffer times let you handle late submissions while still having the time to do something about it. (Now that I think about it, maybe these self-imposed buffer times would be a good thing to use next time a big paper is due.)
That’s it for me this time, so I’ll leave you with a warning to take a breath and accept that your timelines may not mesh with the rest of the worlds, and the advice that sometimes you need to fudge some deadlines yourself.
If you’re wrapping up a co-op term and have some tips to share, leave a comment or tweet me at @lizzmoffat or @SFU_OLC. Plus, make sure you check out the rest of my Diary of a Marketing Co-op series.
Beyond the Blog
- Check out the Communications Co-op Blog, Communique, for more stories like Elizabeth's!