How to be a Comms Planner – Your first four questions

Fake it till you make it!

Or till your agency hires a comms planner.

I decided to set up a series ‘how to fake being a comms planner’ to help brand planners who are expected to cover this field for their agency.

One thing that is often overlooked by creative agency planners is that they have absolutely no chance of success if the client doesn’t get their media right. You ain’t winning any Effies unless you have a proper media weight.


Harvard Business Review came out with some groundbreaking research around advertising effectiveness 20 years ago. They created a general rule that if you are not spending in media (SOV) above your current market share for the category (SOM), you are highly unlikely to grow share. 

E.g If you are Chobani and you own 45% of the yogurt category, you need to spend above 45% of the media spend for the category in order to ensure you keep growing. There’s small caveats around elasticity of the category, read the HBR post.

This research has stood the test of time and last year was supported by everyone’s favorite academic Byron Sharp in Sharp, Daneberg, Beal and Kennedy paper.


The role of the Comms Planner is to work out your position and then work with the media agency to set expectations if you are above or below.

So if you are a planner and want to fake comms planning here is my advice.

  1. When you get the creative brief from the client next, ask them about their SOV position for that time.
  2. If you are underspending then it means the cards are definitely stacked against you for success make sure that is reflected in their goals.
  3. If the media agency doesn’t have a category spend position for the timeframe, ask them what last years was then use that as a guide.
  4. Share with the client these articles so that you can share with the clients why you think that the SOV piece is so important to creative.

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