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Humans, Noise and Hats

Humans Wanted. Well, that turned out to be a particularly resonant rallying call. 


At the end of last week Tom Roach and I put out a tentative invitation to see if anyone wanted to join an APG cross-community working group on AI. Normally I would expect anything resembling a ‘working group’ to strike fear in the hearts of independent thinking strategists but the response has been, frankly, overwhelming: Hands raised in all parts of the globe, every corner of our industry and encompassing both enthusiasts and sceptics.


You can read the original post and if you’d like to take part just let me know -


Tom will chair the group and our aim is to forge a community response to the incursion of AI in our industry and our jobs, and get a grip on the future of GenAI for planners and strategists. We’re particularly keen to have a good proportion of constructive sceptics so if you’re horrified or even left cold by the prospect, consider yourself part of it too. And if you want to join in, do please make sure that your APG membership is up to date. can help if you are not sure.


And of course there’s a nifty little survey out there to give us guidance. It’s very quick, reasonably fun to fill in and it will make a huge difference if we can get a hefty sample so we can understand where we’re starting from. Please do give it a couple of mins and engage in that immensely enjoyable planner task of working out where we could have improved the questionnaire design.


Noisy Thinking is back! Pre-pandemic Noisy Thinking was the lynchpin of the APG events calendar. An exuberant and often provocative chance to debate the questions that Planners are asking, it’s a way of bringing people together and helping us all work out where we stand on the issues that vex, stimulate and inspire. We plan to hold these events in person as more people are back in the office.


We kick off with Pre-Testing on 19th March. We’ve scoured the firmament for the biggest names and scooped Jon Evans, Craig Inglis and Sarah Carter to pit their wits and share their wisdom for all of our benefit. 


This is followed only 2 days later by 'The Future is Reputation not Brand’ on 21st March where we look behind the big words to see what’s there, what the differences are, and ask whether the increasing influence of PR and reputation mean brand has had its day? Speakers confirmed shortly.


Tickets will be available 3 weeks in advance so keep a look-out as we might be limited by space. APG members have first dibs so make sure you’re signed up as a member if you want to come to this one. 


Different Hats is new series of lunchtime events that we will hold online. It is inspired by an enjoyable conversation I had at the start of the year with a group of senior strategists who had taken their brand planning skills into new areas, and a couple who’d moved the other way, into planning from client companies. Cross-fertilisation and the portability of planning skills is one of my pet obsessions so we’re indulging that with a new on-line series. We will talk about what inspires people to make a move, which skills turn out to be essential, what new skills they have acquired and how the way they work has changed. 

Different Hats on 5th March with James Whatley and Stuart Donovan from 1pm to 2pm GMT. James is a Strategy Partner turned CSO at Diva and Stuart is a Planning Director turned Head of Planning at CSM and they are plying their brand planning expertise in video gaming and sports and entertainment respectively. They have some fascinating reflections to share. 


Liz Baines and Sandie Dilger on 13th March from 1pm to 2pm GMT. Liz is Head of Planning at House 337 turned Head of Planning at Specsavers and Sandie is a former Cadbury client turned planner and agency CSO.


Tickets available shortly and will cost almost nothing if you are an APG member, and quite a lot more if you’re not 😊


Finally a bit of a plug for a training course that starts on 21st February. Nailing Your Strategy is convened and run by the talented James Caig, himself a renaissance planner who’s worked at a very senior level across disciplines and is an inspired teacher. This course teaches you how to become a master at strategic persuasion and presentation and people find it life changing.

Sarah Newman

APG Director


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