Working in a Group: 10 Best Practices
When it comes to group projects, it’s important to create an environment where everyone feels welcome to contribute ideas and bring their strengths to the table. This year, MSLGROUP New York’s Summer Insiders are working together to create a campaign that sells our client’s service to a new target audience, and to do so we’re pitching a valuable idea that’s within budget.
We split into two teams in friendly competition to sell our ideas to the client. The teams have worked through each step of the campaign process, from researching the target audience and client and leading brainstorms to developing campaign ideas and measuring the expected results.
All of this hard work leads up to our team presentations at the end of the Summer Insiders Challenge. Each team will present their campaign to a panel of judges in the New York office who work on the client’s account and will determine which campaign wins.
After working with our intern teams for the summer, we came up with a list of 10 best practices to make your group project the best that it can be.
1) Ideas only get stronger when you incorporate feedback and listen to your teammates. During our project we hosted brainstorms and weekly meetings where listening was the key to success to finding the perfect idea for our project.
2) Assign roles and responsibilities to ensure that the same work isn’t being done twice; in the fast-paced public relations world, it’s important that projects are completed efficiently and on time. Clearly-defined roles help streamline the process, keep your team organized and ensure deadlines are met. At the beginning of our group project, we assigned everyone a role to make certain that we were all held accountable for getting work done.
3) Create a timeline and stick to it! Staying on track with your timeline holds yourself and your group members accountable for completing projects in an organized, timely matter.
4) Keep the group updated. In an agency setting where everyone works on multiple accounts, you can’t assume your team members are all up to speed all the time. Hold yourselves accountable with status grids and project timelines, and frequently update each other on the most recent task you have completed. Tools like Excel or Google Docs are great for tracking outstanding actions, and sending meeting reports keeps everyone on track. When in doubt, it’s always better to over-communicate.
5) Allocate work so that everyone plays to their strengths and areas of interest. For example, if someone in your group is especially skilled with creative or is particularly passionate about an aspect of your project, make sure they get the work that reflects this passion. In our teams, we had a few members who were extremely adept at research, and they led the survey planning for our primary research that directed us to our first brainstorm, and eventually our main campaign idea. Our projects could not have come together if these dedicated individuals hadn’t put their efforts where their talents lay.
6) Allow ideas to evolve and don’t get stuck on first thoughts. If we had stayed with one of our initial ideas for our intern project, we would have ended up with a presentation that was completely off-brand and unrealistic for what we needed to present!
7) Encourage a sense of belonging and camaraderie to facilitate team building. To create a great campaign idea, you need an environment where everyone feels encouraged to contribute. Build off one another’s ideas to find your main idea.
8) Give yourself enough time to finish everything in advance! By sticking to internal deadlines, your team is sure to be in top shape for the final product. Allot time for multiple rehearsals of your presentation so everyone feels comfortable and prepared for the final delivery.
9) Be nice and stay positive. Going into a project with a negative attitude won’t help anything, and only makes the situation more stressful. Make sure you fully understand what someone is saying before you criticize or give your opinion.
10) Speak up! Everyone’s opinion matters and it’s important to share your thoughts with the group. At the same time, ask questions and don’t be afraid to give constructive criticism. If a group member is getting off topic, speak up and be honest while remaining respectful. This type of open dialogue helps the team build on ideas and improves the overall group dynamic so when it’s time to present, everyone can cohesively explain the campaign.
With these key points, our teams have learned a great deal about working together to deliver valuable results. Beyond learning these important team-building skills, we have all gained a stronger understanding of the amount of time and effort needed to deliver a winning campaign that speaks to the client’s tone and style.
Seraphine Wuersch is an intern on the P&G Baby and Oral Care teams. She previously held multiple internships in tech startups and the travel industry. She graduated from Georgetown University with a major in French and minors in German and Linguistics. Connect with her via Linkedin.
Amanda Chin is a media intern. She previously held several internships at financial firms in their communication departments and at small public relations agencies. She is a recent graduate from Villanova University where she received her B.A. in Communication with specializations in Public Relations and Journalism. She also received a minor in Political Science. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Alexandria Stehney is an intern on the P&G Family Care team. She previously held a marketing internship at a Detroit magazine publishing company, Hour Media. At the end of this internship she is returning to school to finish her degree in English and Communications at the University of Michigan. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Imani Wallace is a new business intern. She previously interned on the Healthcare team at Cohn & Wolfe, and for the Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce after studying abroad in Paris. She is a recent graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she received a degree in Public Relations. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Elizabeth Frattarole is an intern on the P&G Personal Health Care team. Previously she interned for a major league soccer team and a small public relations agency. At the end of the internship, she is finishing her degree in Strategic Communications at West Virginia University, and will be the Public Relations Student Society of America chapter president. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Magdalene Cereghino is an intern on the Emirates Airline team. Magdalene has held over five different internship positions in the communications and business industries both in the United States and abroad. This past May she graduated from Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations, a double minor in Marketing and Spanish and a specialization in fashion and beauty communications. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Annie D’Elia is an intern on the Mexico Tourism Board team. She previously interned in New York City at the luxury travel and hospitality firm Parasol. Annie recently graduated from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a minor in Political Science. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Jessica Savarese is an intern on the Employee Practice team. She previously was a social media/writing intern for Penn State’s Marketing Office and the Vice President of the Penn State PRSSA chapter. She has also interned for Success Communications Group in New Jersey. Jessica earned her degree in Public Relations with a minor in International Studies from Penn State University this past May. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Maddie Kempton is an intern on the Health Practice team. She previously interned in Washington D.C. at a digital marketing and communication firm. Maddie recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Public Leadership. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Amber Hayle is an intern on the P&G Feminine Care team. She previously held various internships throughout the fields of marketing and consulting. Amber recently graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Business Administration with a degree in business law. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Darbe Canady is an intern on the Personal Health Care team. Darbe attended Howard University and majored in Communications with a minor in Mandarin. This past May she interned at the Cannes Film Festival in France. Upon graduation this December, Darbe hopes to continue working in the entertainment industry, and would like to earn her Master’s in Marketing.