How to become an advertising Planner, with Albion

As I explained in my previous interview, I’ve been a bit slack keeping this up due to a house move, but I’m back on form and in a routine again. This week I spoke to Albion’s Planner, Philippa Dunjay. A university graduate herself, Philippa knows all too well about the long hard road that has to be taken, to get into this industry. So who better to speak to, to find out how to become an advertising Planner than Philippa?

Philippa studied English Literature at Cambridge University, before then gaining herself a number of research-based work placements, working her way up to a placement at Albion. Interested in how to become an advertising Planner? Then read on and see how Philippa did it.

1. What is your day to day role?how to become an advertising Planner

I do a lot of research for new business proposals; what the competition is doing, who the audience is etc… I help create the strategy for campaigns, decide who we’re aiming at and what messages will get through to them most of all. Other days I write how a brand is going to act on Twitter and Facebook, or getting involved in a long workshop to get all the client’s ideas out there.

2. How did you get to where you are now?

To be honest, it was down to luck pretty much, being in the right place at the right time. I went to Cambridge University, but it seemed to have little effect. After seven months of paid internships for other companies in strategic roles and endless rounds of applications and interviews to big ad agencies, I ended up with a two week unpaid work experience at Albion, who I found randomly on Twitter, doing basic data entry. I wanted to be a Planner, but Albion called me up a few weeks later and asked me to chat about an Account Executive position. I did Account Management for a year, trying to get involved with new business research. I then wrote an essay for a planning competition and it got published! I sent it on to the Head of Account Management, who sent to the Head of Planning (who had no idea I wanted to be a Planner) and suddenly I was one.

3. What was the biggest challenge you faced to get where you are?

The lack of jobs. I graduated into a recession and jobs are hard to find, both practically and in terms of visibility. There’s probably ten good applicants per place, who deserve a job. Competition is high.

4. What do Albion look for from future Planners?

Three simple things: curiosity, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit.

5. What advice would you give to future budding Planners?

If you want to know how to become an advertising Planner, you need to explore all avenues. Research the names of every advertising related agency (social, digital, CRM, everything) and apply to all asking for work experience. Do unpaid work experience if you have to to get your foot in the door and to get contacts.

Follow every Planner you can find on Twitter and read Planning blogs. Ask any friends in advertising to pass on openings – jobs are often only advertised in an ad hoc, quiet way.

6. What steps would you recommend to becoming a Planner?

Don’t give up: there are jobs out there. It’s also a lot easier once you’ve got your first proper job. So stick with it.

7. What has been your career highlight so far?

Probably seeing my essay published in print, alongside some much more established and interesting Planners.