San Francisco Chronicle Creative Teams Save Time Managing Inbound Marketing Creative Requests and Reviews in Wrike
San Francisco Chronicle — one of the top 10 largest daily newspapers in the country, with 30M users each month, and owned by The Hearst Corporation.
As the creative design team for marketing grew, designers were not always notified as new work came in, nor when files were ready to work on.
When Sarah Morse Cooney, VP of Marketing, hired Paul De Leon in May of 2016, they realized that the current project management solution would not support a multi-person team. The workflow of creative requests came in via Google Forms and ultimately ended up in a Google Sheet.
They faced 4 key challenges:
- The team did not receive notifications when work was assigned to them, nor when tasks or files were ready to work on.
- Inbound email requests required manual data entry and re-formatting to structure and assign the work.
- Priorities, assignees, and due dates were not clear. Two people could start work on a task, and would not know the other was performing work.
- Feedback provided by stakeholders was not centralized in one chronological summary.
"We had to investigate and find if there were new projects or not," said De Leon. "There were no daily reminders or notifications for us at that time, which made it hard." There was a coordinator that entered and de-duped email and form requests in the spreadsheet, integrating materials into one place.
Morse Cooney asked De Leon to leverage his previous project management software experience and find a better solution. He discovered Wrike researching project management software used by creative teams and tried it out.
De Leon leads requirements gathering for his team and internal customers, and selected Wrike for 3 main reasons:
- Ability to upload images and PDFs, and have a complete history of file changes without ever being archived or deleted.
- Historical tracking of all other project changes, including assignments, comments, reviews, and approvals.
- Managing inbound requests, and sharing status information automatically with requesters.
"The way I'm able to customize Wrike to fit my workflow is one of the strongest features."
The team shares requested work during weekly meetings to review what is completed, outstanding, or upcoming.
Five creative and development teams at the Chronicle now use Wrike and manage their projects & content in separate folders:
- SF Chronicle / SFGATE Marketing team
- SF Chronicle Circulation team (internal customer, submitting creative design requests to the Marketing team.)
- SF Chronicle / SFGATE Advertising Services team (graphic design and web development team, managing requests from clients.)
- Seattle PI Advertising Services team (ad designer at sister branch of SF Chronicle/SFGATE, managing requests from clients.)
Currently, the team uses Dropbox and Wrike together, organizing Photoshop and InDesign files in Dropbox, and final files in Wrike.
"I feel very proud to use it," says De Leon.
Targeted communication that prevents bottlenecks: "Being able to have an isolated conversation on a project. Prior to implementation, emails would include more people than needed: 6-7 people," says De Leon. "It's more direct."
Flexibility to fit specific workflows: "I feel, overall, the way I'm able to customize Wrike to fit my workflow is one of the strongest features."
Consistency of similar projects saving time: Creative teams regularly duplicate tasks and subtasks from templates to manage similar projects, such as complex events.
"Wrike caught my eye the most, and the intuitiveness and user experience was best for me. It was a lot more organized after we brought in Wrike."
Request forms and templates
All inbound requests come in via Wrike Request Forms, with a form for each requesting department. "When a request is made, all 3 of us are notified that a request was made by when," says De Leon.
The team typically includes one single subtask at the end of the project to loop in an external vendor into visibility to work.
Approximately 40% of the team's work is managed by duplicating from templates.
Mobile app (iOS)
De Leon and Morse Cooney use Wrike on Mobile, primarily to check the status of projects, and comment. De Leon sends updates via @mentions in Wrike, and Morse Cooney receives email notifications and replies via email, which flows through the Wrike task and Activity Stream.
For De Leon, "it's being able to send comments if I'm away from my laptop. If I take a photo with my phone I'm able to quickly upload it to a project. If I'm working with a printer, and I'm actually hanging up a huge sign I've been working on, I'll take a picture of it and upload it to Wrike as a historical reference. Now you've seen the digital proofs being approved and created, and here's the live use," says De Leon.
Proofing & approval
De Leon and other designers regularly use proofing & approval on nearly all creative projects. Previously, "a copy editor would print out the PDF, take a red marker, write up his comments, scan it in, and then email it back to me". Now, the team captures the comments directly on digital files inside Wrike. The main benefit is "more direct and pinpointed feedback," says De Leon. "For something that is very text-heavy, it's very helpful to have the right proofing system in those situations."
Video represents 10% of De Leon's personal workload. It was difficult to navigate lists of written comments with time stamps next to them. Now, designers can quickly get to the exact place in the video where the change is needed by clicking right on a comment. "Rather than writing a detailed list in a comment or an email where I have to script through the different time lengths, it's able to help me click on the comment and know exactly what the viewer was referring to," says De Leon.
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