This is a post which is going to kick it a bit old school but the advice is sound. Doing a bit of career archeology, I went back through a set of hard copy print outs that I printed out and used as a reference for many years of my career. Instructions on how to use voicemail systems and keyboard shortcuts to navigate time tracking software the I hadn’t used in the best part of a decade.
I shredded all of them bar one because they were no longer relevant to my current role. The one I kept was written some 11 years ago by the then managing director of the agency that I worked at: Cathy Pittham-Wiley (now European managing director of Racepoint Group). In it Cathy laid out some common-sense advice on organising information for the smooth running of a PR account which served me well over the subsequent decade. I have laid out the mail faithfully copying even the typos for authenticity ^_^
Subject: new hard client files
Date: Fri. 22 May 1998 16:48:43 +01 00
From: “Catherine Pittham” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Multiple recipients of list twge <email@example.com>
We need to get some consistency around the way we file client information both on the computer and in terms of paper based records. So, over the new two weeks, I would like all execs to visit their client folders and ensure that the following basic list of folders are in place (there will be others required for certain accounts I know, but this the core list) with documents transferred in to the relevant ones.
This list will be part of the new starters ‘guide to Weber’ so they know where to go to get stuff and also to streamline the somewhat ad hoc approach which results in information going astray and being unavailable to other members of the team.
Approvals (I had written next to this: cost approvals & materials approvals)
Affiliates (folders inside – one per country)
Press lists and Analyst lists
Product loans (if relevant)
Product reviews (if relevant)
People will be forbidden from storing client info on their hard disks. There will be inspection by the prefect at the end of the month!!
Similarly, all the new filing cabinets are now in place and there will be one drawer (or two depending on size) per client for the time being . It is the exec/interns responsibility to create and label the suspension files for those drawers, put however many card folder inserts inside and then everyone on the team has to file the info they current store on clients in teh relevant folders. This too, will help streamline our processes.
We are starting a new approval process for all written client materials where paper based records (whether the approval was on paper or emailed) have to be kept of approved materials by clients and by the senior person on the team. The process will mean attaching evidence of the approval (signatures or email) to the final version of the written document, putting it in a plastic folder and filing in the Approvals file of the cabinet. This is essential for indemnity insurance – to protect us in case of major disputes over confidential information going out with client say so, for example. .
These are the proposed core ‘hard’ files :
Affiliates (one folder per country – inside the main file)
Background info (broken down into constituent areas as approp to client)
In due course, we will hold a workshop for execs, SAEs on the whole subject of time management, record keeping and Weber client management processes – which this will figure in. Bet you just can’t wait!. . . .
Have good holidays.
Posts in this series
This was the post that started it all: 29 not-very-technical things that every PR person should know