In order to better identify the effective aspects of project communication, a research survey was sent to both creative professionals and clients to determine their attitudes with creative media projects. A supplementary case study was also conducted to further evaluate the development of this framework.
An online survey (available for view in the Capstone Report here) was sent to both creatives and clients with questions related to their experiences with creative media projects, as well as their feelings on the communication methods used in those projects.
Given the consistency of communication issues that many creatives and clients experience during a creative media project the expected results were inconsistencies in the attitudes towards effective communication between clients and customers.
The results of these surveys would most likely be improved and potentially changed with a larger sample size.
The surveys provided valuable insights into how clients and creatives view project communication and where gaps exist. One of these was with views of how client feedback should be given to creatives as well as how clients should be trained for project-related skills. Most clients felt that an in-person meeting was the most effective way to provide feedback to creatives, but creatives felt that email and the utilization of a web-based portal were more effective. The hand-off process and training technical skills to clients showed inconsistent attitudes, with clients preferring video walkthroughs and documentation, and creatives generally preferring in-person meetings.
Where these gaps exist, this framework will be more heavily weighted towards client preferences than creatives. As mentioned previously, a client-focused approach provides better results than a project-focused approach. Given that client referrals are the most valuable form of marketing and contribute to higher conversion rates, it is important to provide communication systems that allow a client to feel their needs are being met.
Among the survey respondents, there were overlaps with attitudes towards the exchange of factual information with both groups preferring email and a web-based portal. With certain discovery phase activities such as the kick-off meeting, there was also a shared preference towards emails and in-person meetings. The same applied post-deployment communication exchanges related to project maintenance activities.
The approach to building this communication framework will start with the attitudes and beliefs that both groups have in common as a foundation for building additional bridges to mutual understanding and communication.
During the Spring 2020 semester at the University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu, a student self-study project to redesign the UH System Academy for Creative Media website was used as a case study to determine how different styles of communication affect a client’s perceptions of the creative media process.
During the first two months of the project, the communication was intentionally infrequent and non-responsive. Afterward the project communication transitioned to one that was proactive, frequent, and engaged. Towards the later parts of the project, a survey was sent to the client to determine their feelings and attitudes related to the communication process, comparing their experiences during each period of time.
Not surprisingly, the second part of the project yielded a more favorable project communication experience for the client. The client’s responses show that communication in Part 1 was considerably less satisfying than those in Part 2. Part 2 was also felt to be more effective with more progress being made.
The attribute the respondent felt contributed to most to lowering the quality of communication was a lack of information, while following a timeline was the attribute that made the project more helpful and easier. It is worth noting that while email communication was felt to be used the most often, the most effective method of communication was perceived as the web-based project portal.
During the first part, the client felt that the most helpful aspect of communication was in-person discussions, which is interesting due to the lack of in-person meetings during this period of time. This is also in alignment with the previously-mentioned client survey responses who felt that in-person meetings allowed them to be “heard”. During this period with very little communication, the ACM Website client felt they were not being heard.
During the second part, the respondent felt that a high frequency of communication and back-and-forth collaboration was most represented, which aligns with the consistent, proactive, and effective communication demonstrated during this time frame.
Based on this limited data set with a single case study respondent, it seems to corroborate the idea that specific forms of communication in creative media projects are not as important as the consistency with which they are utilized.
While these survey results may change based on a larger sample group it is still possible to make initial conclusions regarding a potential communication framework. Given the results of these three surveys, combined with research on methods of communication and project management, the next step is to craft a framework from which creative professionals may ensure (or create favorable conditions for) the success of their creative media projects and their client’s satisfaction with the communication process.