a creative project communication Framework

Senior capstone project by Mark Moran

academy for creative media | university of hawai'i west o'ahu

Modes of


Defining the role of communication in a creative media project requires first identifying the various modes of communication that apply to creative media projects, and then determining which phases of creative media projects require specific modes, 

What is the role of


in a Creative Media Project?

According to an article by Paul Ziek in the International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, “communication is more than message exchange” and the qualities of an effective communication framework allow for iterative learning and growth of the system which will impact the content, direction, and outcome of a creative media project.

A lack of communication can play a significant role in delays related to cost overruns and scope creep, while good communication is the single-most-important determiner of success. Poor communication is not so much the result of the client’s inexperience or lack of knowledge, but rather the implementation of ineffective communication systems on the part of the creative. 

The best creatives communicate in ways that promote positive relationships and convey project information while adapting to the style and characteristics of the project and its clients. And successful creative media projects begin with a client-focused approach, requiring a combination of clear, effective communication and engaging collaboration between the creative and the client. 

Project Management vs. Client Management

It is worth noting that while project management systems are primarily focused on improving the workflow and profitability of a project, putting the service provider first, a client management system focuses on the education, support, and care of the client towards the goals of the project. 

Beginning a project with a focus on client management allows the establishment of communication, transparency, and trust that form the foundation of a successful client relationship. Afterward utilizing project management best practices will help ensure the successful and efficient completion of the project.

What are the

Modes of communication?

To determine a starting point for creating the creative media project communication framework it is necessary to look at the intersection of modes of communication and knowledge types, and how they allow for the effective dissemination of information in a client project.

For the purpose of this framework, a set of three main communication types and nine methods of communication have been selected. (Further background on this selection process is available in the full senior capstone report.)

Data Transmission

Discussion and Skill Training

Discussion and Skill Training

How to define a

Creative Media Project

If we define media, the plural form of the word medium, as anything that passes along information then the number of potential types of media projects becomes overwhelming. Two main categories have been selected as the basis for this framework: design projects and creative productions.

This list is meant to represent a large number of creative design projects and creative production types common in todayʻs creative media industries. However, other types of creative media projects may also find a use in adapting this framework for their own specific needs.

Design Projects

Website Design, UI/UX design, graphic design, print design, branding and logo design, motion graphics, animation, drafting, interior design, or industrial design

Creative Productions

Film and video production and editing, audio production and editing, or photography

1. Discovery

Preparing your systems and building your understanding for the upcoming project

2. Design

Defining the visual language and style for the project

The Four Phases of a

Creative Media Project

Given the diversity of creative media project types, the next step is to identify the common elements of each that allows a communication framework to be universally (or significantly) relevant.

These phases have been adjusted for the requirements of creative media projects into the following four phases — or “The 4Dʻs” — each representing several possible steps that may or may not be included within each creative media project type.

1. Discovery

Defining the scope, requirements, audience, and message of the creative media project. This phase lays the foundation for all future communication, and sets expectations for what the client can expect from the creative.

2. Design

While the creative is crafting effective designs, it is also imperative for them to maintain effective communication. This relates to both how they share their designs with the client, and how they receive feedback from the client on their designs.

3. Development

While building the best brochure, video clip, website or podcast for a client, it is important to utilize communication methods that allow clients to stay in the loop and work in tandem with the creative designer.

4. Deployment

From training, to handoffs, to implementations and showcases, the way a creative communicates the results of their labor can either bring a successful conclusion, or leave a bad taste in the client’s mouth.

3. Development

Building the project using the appropriate creative media tools

4. Deployment

Bringing the results of the creative media project to the world

The Intersection of

communication and creative media projects

Each phase consists of a variety of activities and it is necessary to analyze which specific modes of communication would be possible and appropriate within each context. Not all modes are applicable to all activities so a quick survey of the primary activities of each phase can provide a general idea of possible communication modes.


Discovery requires detailed discussions and communication to review abstract concepts and methodologies and sets both the tone and expectations for the client through the life of the project.


Design requires a consistent back-and-forth style of communication with deliverables and feedback being exchanged on a regular basis.


Development is often the most labor intensive phase for creatives and communication is typically in one direction with the creative providing updates to the client.


Deployment primarily involves the creative professional instructing the client in methods for distribution, training, and setting up maintenance systems.

With an understanding of the modes of communication and its integration with a creative media project, the next step to build a communication framework is to survey clients and creatives about their views of creative media projects.