Demystifying DevOps: Lessons for the PR World

One thing that really jumped out at us in the decade we’ve spent working with our B2B clients is that DevOps practices are not just for those who think in code. They’re largely applicable to the creative PR work we do on a daily basis. We share such similar workflows, that we couldn’t help but pick up a thing or two along the way (and call out some bad habits to avoid).

So, let’s start a new project request…

Conceptually, DevOps is a way for developers and operations teams to work more efficiently with one another. But there’s a notion that seamless workflows can be achieved via an application, and while DevOps tools will help expedite project release cycles, it’s a means to a broader solution. Ultimately, the purpose of DevOps is to get each team to anticipate the others’ needs, resulting in quick product development, and fewer errors, while still being secure.

Likewise in PR, we’re working with a number of different teams that must function the same way in order to make accurate and timely decisions. Being successful at this requires a synchronized effort that doesn’t necessarily come naturally.

By merging the following into your existing account structures, you’ll be on the path towards DevOps readiness.

I. Make To-Do Lists a Responsibility for Everyone

While to-do lists are useful for personal purposes, when they’re extended to a group of people, to-do lists become stale faster than bread. Typically, one owner makes themselves responsible for updating key action items for everyone which goes unappreciated and is unrealistic long-term. These documents get lost and the attempt at organization gets squandered despite the best of intentions.

Instead, make it the responsibility of everyone to update priority grids. And, so it doesn’t take away from other work, have team members engage with the document in the simplest ways possible. To ensure regular engagement, color-code and highlight within the document to signify priorities and project status. The tagging function in Google’s Suite can be a useful feature as well. Just remember to be flexible in the format because what works for one may not for the whole.

II. Schedule Review Sessions with/for Key Stakeholders

This may seem like overkill, but any sort of structure that can be applied to a revision cycle will get assignments out the door faster. Whether it’s a plan, pitch, or new business deck, once you’ve completed your specific portion, schedule half-hour windows for key stakeholders to review said work and a fifteen-minute debrief for them to impart their feedback.

In doing so, you’ve removed the element of chance from the equation. No longer will you need to ask “has this been reviewed?” and “what needs to get changed?” because it’s already been baked in. Using this method, projects can be shuffled up the ladder seamlessly and without delay.

III. Explore Slack integrations

If you’re using a messaging platform, like Slack, you’re aware that it’s a breeding ground for lost correspondences. That quick DM often goes unnoticed and projects assigned there are left floating in the wind without an owner. This compounds a negative stigma around Slack that it can’t be used for mission-critical client activities, and even worse, gets thought of as a secondary means of communication.

Common practice says use email for everything, but Slack specifically, has a plethora of useful integrations geared towards project management. And truth be told, email is not much better at keeping things organized (unless you’ve unlocked the “inbox zero” achievement).

Consider installing Marker annotated screenshots, Tettra internal Wikipedia, Trello collaborative to-do list, and Google Drive for tracked changes at a moment’s notice as ways to augment Slack for a greater purpose – to consolidate one-off disparate applications.

Since elementary school, we as humans have largely struggled with projects that rely on us working together. Project members operate in silos (doing too much or too little independently), tasks get repeated when groups don’t clearly specify priorities/deadlines, and most often, nothing gets done outside the confines of classroom walls or scheduled library get-togethers.

These bad project habits from our youth have carried over into workplace environments. As software development adopted DevOps, PR must derive its own response to the same problem – whether that’s DevOps or another buzzword.

I. For developers, this is otherwise known as issue tracking. The most common use cases include: tracking tasks and work statuses, elaborating on new code implementations and accepting support requests or bug reports.

II. If you’ve heard the word scrum thrown around that is this in practice. Although it was initially tied to software development, scrums are starting to be explored under different contexts.

III. In order to get DevOps right, it requires a single solution that accomplishes all 7 phases of a release cycle. Slack as a core tenant for an agency would eliminate the need for individualized repositories that meet very specific needs. If used correctly, Slack could create one single truth.