Friday, February 13, 2009

the generation to redefine what planning is

Amidst all the new ways to communicate, engage, and connect, could we say that "connections planning" is the evolution of account and/or brand planning?

When I was in Miami Ad School, Catrina McAuliffe opened our session with a class on the History of Account Planning. She talked about everyone from Stanley Pollitt (the father) to Jay Chiat (the first U.S. agency to have it). She put it all in context and then gave our generation a daunting task: you will be ones to redefine how planning works.

Ok. Look at this article from Mediaweek in mid-2008:
Communications planning is a more strategic way of determining key media choices. It's about moving away from the science of delivering messages to audiences and toward the art of understanding how consumers receive and respond to communication. The starting point is the consumer, not the media channel or discipline. When practiced at its best, communications planning not only influences where a marketer's creative will run, but also informs the creative, strategic, and activation processes as well.
Could this possibly be the next phase of planning? If we think about plannng now, we can't solely focus on the brand without taking into account all of the places it can intersect with a "target audience." Perhaps before, it was much more of a brand strategy in so much as what we had to say (the message) had to be strategic enough to resonate with an audience. Now perhaps, it's placement (an engagement) instead of the message that makes a brand most salient. We shouldn't expect brand planning to sit in its place, unchanged, when consumers and communications are changing rapidly around us; it needs to evolve to.
Determining how channels are integrated into the marketing communication effort is a core role of ________ planning.
(I added the _____) Is this media planning? Or connections planning? brand planning? account planning?

To me, we're talking about insights and connectivity - the focus of any "planner." Everyone can be insightful, but it's planning (in whatever category) that is held accountable for its representation at every touchpoint.

For those people who have been in planning for 10, 20, 30 years, can you see its evolution? Or should I bite the bullet and concede to the discipline being fragmented into tiny counterparts that have to do with different spheres of experience?

Or rather is connections planning the new media planning? And how do you brand planners feel about its responsibilities solely lying within another department?


mikej said...

I dont think that is in fact right

Trust me connections planners or whatever they call them in the US have been around for a while and the account planner fraternity will never allow us to take over... and to be honest they shouldnt

We have two distinct roles I believe.
Account Planner: what do we need to project
Connections Planner: how do we act to project it

The truth is we should be best friends. In in the past act. planners have always been good at qual research, as understanding the emotions of a consumer and connections planners were good at Quant and understanding their actions. But this is changing. Act Planners are becoming better at quant and vice versa.
Connections planners are also becoming better at understanding the emotions behind brands and people.

I have always believed they should be in the same unit but businesses broke them up. The truth be told now is that if you get a good act planner his/hers experience is around not only consumer understanding and insight but also conveying this information to a client and a creative team. Then making that happen to create something.
Connections planners usually have come from a media or even act planner background but they know how to do a media plan. But we could get better at the communication internally to make things happen outside of the standard media set. But this comes with experience and a lot of connection planners and agencies are pushing the envelope on this. Michaledis and Bednash as well as Naked pushed this in the UK a lot.

I also believe that we can work together on consumer understanding and insight generation that will in turn lead to different outcomes from each player... but should be distinct for each objective. But this comes down to clients and how they work and how the agencies get paid... and more political stuff.

I think there will always be a need for both. But we definitely should be mates and work together more.

sorry for the rant

erin said...

love the rant. thank you. And I agree, that "connections planners" are more like media planners and that account planners should stick with brand development moreso BUT most of what you said has to do with how an agency is run, and I think in an agency that is more traditional, if you have a brand planner who thinks more like a connections planner, it's better to forge ahead than hope that media planning will come up with something new.

thank you for giving it more definition. i look forward to the future of all facets of planning. :)

BMunkacsy said...

actually, i think that it will be the media planners that will drive the agency of the future toward new and unusual ways of presenting the brand. Maybe I'm prejudiced because I am a planner/buyer, but we're taught early on to look under rocks and over hill and dale to find the ideal medium for the client's brand. It's a natural progression that the media planner will also be the one who suggests new ideas to the creative team, the client and the account planner

Richard Galt said...

I am studying for a masters in Planning in the UK and have been trying to keep up with your blog. As a planner do you have any tips to get into the industry? Mine na dmy classmates blog is
We would all really appreciate any words you could give us!