Planning for the best.


Being Curious by Nature with our Head of Planning Katy Clarkson.

LBB> What do you think is the difference between a strategist and a planner? Is there one? 

Katy> The primary role of the media agency is to understand what the business wants to achieve, how communications will help achieve this goal and then deliver a plan to execute that. The strategist tends to work at the start of this journey, understanding the challenges, uncovering the barriers and identifying the opportunities. The planner focuses on the context and channels to deliver the plan successfully. But as with every role, there’s cross over, and it will flex depending on the agency set up. d19 has a media strategy and planning process called ‘media made human’, which all our briefs go through, so for us both functions are covered. 

LBB> And which description do you think suits the way you work best?

Katy> As head of planning, I love working with brands and their wider communications teams to bring strategies to life in media. However, I’ve seen a shift in the last few years of clients needing our help right at the beginning of the process, understanding what impact the media is going to have on their overall business. 

LBB> What part of your job/the strategic process do you enjoy the most?

Katy> It’s great to be working across a range of brands and categories. I’ve got an eclectic range of interests and love immersing myself into new areas of research. I also appreciate a good random fact. Recent highlights have been ‘the average bus travels 700 miles a week’ and ‘ads that use golden oldies for their soundtrack perform 8% better in terms of memory encoding than those that use newer tracks’. 

LBB> What strategic maxims, frameworks or principles do you find yourself going back to over and over again? Why are they so useful? 

Katy> Technology is changing the ways brands and consumers interact. However, while there might be more ways to reach an audience, the basic principles of communication still stand. It’s as simple as making people think, feel or do something in response to the advertising – whether that’s an impulse purchase, changing a habit or building trust in a brand. 

From a media perspective we often reference Binet & Field (balancing short-term and long-term goals) and Byron Sharp (for key planning principles, like using distinctive assets).

LBB> In recent years it seems like effectiveness awards have grown in prestige and agencies have paid more attention to them. How do you think this has impacted on how strategists work and the way they are perceived?

Katy> Strategy always went hand in hand with effectiveness. I think the difference is that now we have the measurement frameworks to definitively prove that the plans have worked. 

LBB> Do you have any frustrations with planning/strategy as a discipline?

Katy> You can have benchmarks and industry averages, but a new campaign is always going to be a leap of faith for brand marketing teams. But there’s enough research out there now to know it’s a calculated risk that’s likely to pay off!   

LBB> What advice would you give to anyone considering a career as a strategist/planner?

Katy> I think the best strategists and planners are naturally curious by nature, with the ability to see both the bigger picture as well as the smaller details. If you’re the type of person who likes to continually learn and discover new things, then this could be the career for you. 

Written by Katy Clarkson, Head of Planning, december19