Saying no when a creative request isn't a priority

In the Creative process and production course, you learned some principles to help you prioritize new design requests.

How do you handle requests that aren’t a priority? Saying no isn’t always easy. Share tips and tricks with your peers about the best way to handle requests that your team has to add to the backlog.

In my experience, I have communicated with the requestor letting them know when I will be able to complete the task or project. If it is a request for me specifically to complete, I check to see if I can pass the task to someone else or outsource the task/project.

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For us it’s mainly about team bandwidth and how the request aligns with organizational strategic goals. We try not to say ‘no’ flat out, but more along the lines of at this particular time we just don’t have the bandwidth since we are working diligently on completing projects that are directly aligned with A, B, and C strategic goals. If you are willing to put off your project we can definitely revisit it in 3, 6, or 12 months depending on what the request is.

Granted, we are in research rather than marketing but I think it can still apply. Also if you are working on larger projects (organizationally) that still benefit those clients you can reinforce that you are already doing things to support those clients in some way.



I am very honest with the person making the request. If there aren’t manpower resources, I will tell them and what the team is working on. I show them the timeline and let them know that while we currently cannot handle their request, we will be able to in the future, and then will assign the project with a date later than what they are expecting. This way, expectations are managed and the lines of communication are kept open.


@Nick_Nixon It sounds like transparency is a key pillar of your approach. This is fantastic to hear because Asana is built to help organizations establish open channels of communication. By housing your work in Asana, everyone can see what work is already on your team’s plate. To read more about how to build transparency within your organization, check out this article.

As most people have written here, we also aim to not tell people “no” flat out. My team exists to support and enable the work of other teams with creatives, so it’s really important to us that everyone we’re working with feels excited about collaborating with us. We often try to see if a low priority request can be combined with something that we are prioritising. Say we got a request for an employer branding video, which may not be a priority, but we are exploring new ideas for our YouTube channel, then we would try to see if there’s a way to combine the two that makes sense for both.

In general, I don’t particularly like postponing a project for a few months, usually for us that means that we end up with a long backlog or hold queue, and I don’t want to have to keep going back to whoever requested a creative and postpone it over and over. Therefore, if we can’t combine a low priority item with something we’ve already committed to producing, I would reject the request in a kind way, knowing that if it is still relevant in a few months time, the team will get back to us.
Most often things will have changed though :slight_smile:

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I believe saying no should be the last option but still remain an option. Before saying no, you can provide the requester with how the intake process works and how should they funnel their requests in the future to insure incorporation in roadmap.

Also such requests can be assessed for effort and duration and based on that:

  1. Request can be accepted or rejected
  2. Based on the assessment, the requester will know that we gave serious consideration to their request and it would be easier to suggest new timelines.

The above approach will be more professional and will ensure less conflicts and continuous intake process improvement.

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