Rush Projects for Tight Deadlines: Strike While the Iron is Hot
Blazing fast turnaround — for when the deadline is the only thing that matters.
As a general rule, it’s a terrible idea to do a rush project unless it’s absolutely necessary.
If you aren’t up against some kind of external deadline, then it is always, always, always a better idea to just go a little slower and do the project right the first time, even if it means the project runs a little longer than you would’ve ideally liked. Rushed work is rarely good, and good work is rarely rushed.
(Quick note: The kind of turnaround time that constitutes a “rush” is highly dependent on the nature and scope of the project. A rush turnaround could be anywhere from a few days, if it’s a small deliverable like a media release or a blog article, to 2 weeks for a website or sales copy project. Even 3 months could be a “rushed” timeline in the case of an extremely large corporate project. There is no uniform definition of what constitutes “rush delivery”. It’s all dependent on the scope of work.)
It isn’t always smart to rush a project, and in every single case, rushing a project inevitably means that corners will be cut.
But sometimes, there’s an opportunity in front of you that you just can’t pass up, or an urgent need that absolutely must be met. In these kinds of situations, a rush project can help you get…something…together in time.
So how can you tell when it’s okay to rush a project and when you should extend the deadline? And what can you expect a rush project to look like? Here are some factors to consider.
Are you willing to go without the discovery phase, the strategy recommendations, and the revision process?
There’s a lot more that goes into a successful copywriting project than just throwing words on a screen. Effective copywriting is a product of good thinking and superior attention to detail. That’s why a standard project often involves a thorough discovery process, a lot of strategizing, and multiple rounds of revision. A standard project timeline includes all of these different phases – and even has a small buffer to account for any unforeseeable delays like power outages or illnesses.
But on a rushed timeline, the first thing that gets killed is the discovery & strategy phase, the second thing that gets killed is the buffer, and the third thing that gets killed is the revision process. Because there’s no other alternative. Because we cannot just create more time. And that means in order to make the timeline work, we need to start on the actual writing component itself immediately. There’s no time for any high-level strategic thought or planning. There’s no time to communicate outlines and expectations. We can’t afford to lose time to an “in case of emergency” buffer. And rush projects often involve working on the first draft of the deliverables right up until deadline, which means there’s also no time for revisions.
Electing to do a rush project necessitates removing all but the absolute essential elements of the copy development process. There just aren’t enough hours in the day to go through the full process and still hit that tight deadline. The process for a rush project will always be bare-bones at best.
Are you willing to accept work of average, mid-tier quality?
Brand Gesture prides itself on doing amazing, outstanding, incredible, mind-blowingly awesome work. (See all them-there testimonials for proof.)
But doing amazing, outstanding, incredible, mind-blowingly awesome work….takes time.
It takes time to delve deep into user habits, or research copy tactics, or come up with a creative approach, or develop a strong brand voice, or find a good angle. It takes time to outline, write, proofread, and format a deliverable. It takes time to go back and forth over email or on the phone. And it takes a lot of time to allow for the kind of creative and strategic thinking that results in a high-quality project.
Good copy takes time.
But time is the one thing that there is never enough of when working on a rush project. And we can’t create more time, because that would defy the laws of physics.
Rush projects also often involve putting in much longer than normal days, which isn’t conducive to high-quality work.
And that means the only way to hit a tight deadline, the only way to make a rush project actually work, is to cut out a lot of the different activities that make good copy, well, good.
If you’re going to commission a rush project, you must be prepared to accept the fact that even in the absolute best-case scenario you will be getting average-quality, “just okay” work.
But if the deadline is the only thing that matters, then the copy doesn’t have to be good…it just has to be done.
If you’re willing to accept work of a lower-than-usual quality, if it’s more important that the project gets done ASAP, then a rush project might be a good fit for you.
But if it’s an important deliverable that absolutely has to be done right, then you’re better off extending the deadline.
Are you okay with a little disorganization?
One of the most time-consuming (but also most useful) elements of any project…is project management.
Streamlining communications so you don’t get 5 emails in a day when one would have sufficed. Creating and organizing all the little supporting peripheral pieces of copy to go along with the main deliverables. Even something as simple as hitting “spell check”.
These are the tasks that make a project go smoothly and create a seamless experience. These are the little details that make everything seem really easy and simple.
And without these elements, you’re in for a bumpy ride.
Rush projects are, by their very nature, disorganized. Details will get forgotten. There will be miscommunications. Errors will happen.
When it comes to doing project management on a rush project, the goal isn’t to stop these things from happening. Rather, the goal is to ensure that all of the essential elements of the project are fulfilled. Anything that is “non-essential” or “nice to have”, anything that doesn’t directly fulfill a core deliverable, has no place in a rush project.
So if attention to detail is something you care about, you’re going to have a rough time with rush projects. But if you’re willing to accept a certain level of chaos & anarchy as inevitable, then a rush project might be a good option for you.
Are you able to make yourself available to answer questions on short notice?
With a rush project, there’s not usually much opportunity to do a proper discovery and data-collection phase at the start of the project, which is going to mean more questions later on. Rush projects often involve putting out fires and asking a lot of questions throughout the entire project. If at any juncture your input is required on a deliverable in order to proceed on the project, it will be essential that you provide said input ASAP. If you aren’t prepared to receive out-of-the-blue phone calls or if your schedule doesn’t allow you to make yourself available for questions on short notice, then you shouldn’t be doing a rush project.
Here’s a handy rule of thumb: How annoyed will you be if you have to take a work-related call at 7 PM on a Friday night? How much will you be grinding your teeth if you have to put a pause on date night, or cut the hockey game short? And is this project important enough that you can put up with these little annoyances?
If you aren’t willing to sacrifice some of your personal life for your project, then it probably isn’t a rush project. But if this project is so important, so vital, that we can’t afford any delays on it whatsoever, then I will expect you to be able to make yourself available at the drop of a hat in the event that I need something from you.
Are you prepared to pay top-tier fees for mid-tier work?
Us copywriters always do our best to create awesome work. Because that’s why we can charge such big bucks.
But when we’re up against an insane deadline, hitting that deadline is going to require us to work all kinds of crazy scheduling magic, put in hours when we aren’t at our absolute best, and basically rip a hole in the fabric of the space-time continuum. And yeah, we charge for that. (Even the space-time continuum thing. Especially the space-time continuum thing.)
The nature of rush work means that you are paying a higher-than-usual fee for work of a lower-than-usual quality. This cannot be avoided unless we extend the deadline.
So why are you paying more and getting less?
Because the value isn’t in the quality of the work – the value is in the turnaround time. The value is in all of the sacrifices that had to be made in order to make the timeline work. You aren’t paying for the deliverables – you’re paying for the deliverables plus all of the inconveniences, both large and small, that the project necessitated.
If you aren’t prepared to pay a top-tier fee for mid-tier work, then you should probably reevaluate whether your rush project actually needs to be done on a rushed timeline.
Are you willing to accept a different definition of a successful project?
Typically speaking, a successful project is one that you end up being happy with, one that works for you and does what it was intended to do.
But a rush project has a very specific definition of success.
A rush project is successful IF:
- All of the essential core deliverables are in place by deadline
- There are no major errors or fatal defects (Note: “no major errors” doesn’t mean “no errors”. “No fatal defects” doesn’t mean “no defects”. It just means that the errors and defects present in the work aren’t serious enough to warrant killing the entire project.)
Rush projects aren’t for the faint of heart.
But if you’ve read all of that doom & gloom and you still want to do a rush project, then chances are, you’re actually in a legitimate rush, and you really do need something yesterday.
If your back is up against a wall & you’re feeling desperate, contact Brand Gesture and crush that rush.