Last week, I heard Jon Steel lambast the current state of planning. His main bone of contention was that it is no longer a research based discipline. Although my admiration for him is boundless, I felt it was a little harsh. Since his heyday, the world, let alone the advertising industry, has undergone massive changes. The landscape is much more complex and the role of a planner has expanded accordingly. Indeed, there are now many different types of planner to meet a variety of challenges (as he mockingly pointed out).
Today, agencies do not wield the same influence as they used to - often they are relegated to solving communication, rather than business or even marketing problems. It doesn't help that it's common practice for clients to divide up their business and hand it to several "specialist" agencies, whilst the research is conducted by a research agency. Although I am aware how petulant this will sound from a planner in the nascent stages of his career, 'It's not my fault.'
That doesn't mean we should just accept things as they are; ultimately planning is about understanding what makes people tick. So the APG YP event, 'Behind The Mirror' was a great opportunity to understand the research process better especially as I had so little exposure to it.
It was a really great event - fun, interactive and incredibly informative. We conducted our own mini focus groups as well as learning the cornerstones of great qualitative research - listening, interpreting and sifting. I found it both helpful and empowering - if an opportunity presents itself to conduct research, or if there is a situation (such as pitching) where qualitative research could be really useful, I will be much better equipped to add value and make a positive difference.
Although circumstances today mean that planning and research aren't as close as they could be, planners should still be entrepreneurial and resourceful. To prove I am not totally insane, I will end by agreeing whole-heartedly with Jon Steel - we should be more than 'Google Planners'.
(If you would like to get involved with APG Young Planners, please get in touch with Lexi - firstname.lastname@example.org)