5 Traits of a Great Comms Planner

Comms Planning vs Behavioral Planning: Two Sides of the Same Coin

So, what’s the difference between Behavioral Planning and Communications Planning? Larissa explains this in detail in her post “What is a Comms Planner vs. a Media Planner vs. a Brand Planner vs. a Digital Strategist?”, but in the simplest terms — the biggest difference is their objectives. Behavioral Planning handles the “what” we need to say, and Comms Planning handles the “how” we’re going to say it (and media planners handle the “where” we’re going to say it!).

While those can be very different things, it is critical that Behavioral and Comms Planners are joined at the hip to ensure their two lines of work are ultimately laddering up to achieving the client’s goals. At BBDO, we aim to work closely with our Behavioral Planning counterparts from the moment we receive a client brief — this helps us establish a relationship with each other upfront, and also helps define the differences in our roles for our clients as well.

So, what makes a great Comms Planner? We’ve put together a list of the top 5 traits you should think every day on the job:

Dissect the Challenge

Campaigns often start with a client problem. Whether it’s a business problem (sales are down) or a business perception challenge (no one thinks we’re cool), it’s our job to dig deeper into what’s causing those issues. With the help of our Behavioral Planners and Marketing Science team, we typically start off by better defining the audience barriers — what do we know about the audience that is causing those problems to occur? Using this approach as an organizational tool helps us better understand the communications tasks we need to include in our marketing to ensure we are breaking through and resonating with our key audience.

Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

Once we have defined our campaign communication tasks, clients and creatives can often get overwhelmed with the amount of work that needs to be done! After all, campaigns now include more touchpoints than ever before. A key component of the Comms Planner’s job is to simplify these tasks down and create digestible task briefs that can be used to guide the work. The key is to make these as simple as possible — if a brief feels like too much work, there is usually resistance from both internal and client teams.

Always Keep a Bird’s Eye View of the Campaign

With so much happening at once, our teams often lean on Communications Planning to get a holistic understanding of a campaign. We use Blueprints, which consider media flights, production budgets, cultural moments, and communications tasks to find this broader perspective. The Blueprint ensures that the Communications Planner has a pulse on everything going on with the client’s advertising. The Communications Planner must keep a bird’s eye view of the campaign and maintain a deep understanding of every integrated piece.

Don’t Be Afraid to Test and Learn

As Communications Planners, we develop creative guidelines that help our work perform best across channels. We optimize our performance when we test our work and apply our findings. If we don’t already know what makes a certain type of ad most effective, it’s our job to find out.

But, as ad offerings constantly change, we have to make sure our findings stay actionable. When we aren’t sure what to recommend, or if we have an inkling about performance with little or no data to support it, we simply need to roll up our sleeves, set up a test, and learn.

Be a Channel Expert

Communications Planners need to become channel experts. Our relationships with the platforms themselves (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Google, Pinterest, etc. have reps that work with specific creative agencies) provide great opportunities for running our own tests and learning about channel innovations. As the digital space is always changing, keeping up with the platforms is a never-ending task that the Communications Planner must always stay on top of.

When we strive to master each of these skillsets, we help ensure that we excel at our jobs, creating the best work we can for our clients.