Interview with Cally Archibald

Join me as I have a conversation with Cally Archibald, Content Strategist at Initials in London. As she shares her 3 pieces of advice for a strategist, her strategy journey, and what she found most helpful in joining The Planning Dirty Academy.

Okay. Hi, my name is Julian Cole and today our guest is Kelly Archibald. Who’s a content strategist at initials in London. So Kelly, my first question to you is what’s your three best pieces of advice for strategists? Hi Julian. Okay. My first one and I think probably everyone says this, but, um, it really doesn’t sink in for me for a long time.

Is that there’s? No. Like perfect answer. So I think he spent a lot of time trying to find the answer and get really kind of caught up in that. And especially, I don’t know, you’ll be in client meetings and things like that. And everyone’s kind of looking for you to sort of say the smartest thing and it can be quite stressful.

Um, one of my senior colleagues, um, gave me a bit of advice. Very early on when I started, which is that planning is actually really creative, kind of masquerading as a science. And that really stuck with me because you spend so much time trying to learn the frameworks and get quite academic about it. But actually there’s something magic that happens when you find an insight and it just feels kind of intuitively.

Right. And I think just trust you and go with it and don’t worry too much for, I’ll just trying to find the most reasoned answer, not the best answer. Love that. Cool. So number two. Um, so when you’re doing the four CS when you’re researching, so I think you’d call it company, uh, consumer category culture, um, always start with company.

So when I first started, I was trying to, yeah. Do more sort of, um, creative planning. I would just kind of panic and I go, oh my God. Okay. Right. I’ll get to mental. I’ll start with mental. Oh, I should look at, you know, and I just kind of end up all over the place. And actually sometimes a lot of the answers can be in the client docs that they’ve sent you, or you start to get a sense of why they’re doing what they’re doing and start to form hypothesis before you even start looking at the sort of wider category and consumer implications.

Um, And there’s that I’ve found that helps me so much. It just tailies up my thinking and just makes my research so much more effective and streamlined and less panicky. I love that. I, yeah, I I’ve, that’s a number one question. A lot of people have is like, where is the start point? So I really love that of like being very like it’s company, which is, I agree.

It’s kind of the thing that you, you’ve got the most information on to begin with as well. Great. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you say that I’m planning Darcy, but I think when you have resources or your agency has resources, you kind of feel like you have to start there, but actually that can kind of send you on the wrong path or send you into this whole, like, um, before, before you start to form any sort of reason thinking, okay.

Um, okay, so the third one is do the reading, but don’t be too academic. So there’s so many great books out there about strategy and you can, um, learn from some great planners in the industry, but I think sometimes you should use books as more of a way to take you out of the problem that you’re working on.

And. Kind of percolate something a little bit that sometimes I get to insights. If I’m really stuck, I go and read a case study about something totally different from what I’m working on and it can form something like quite unusual and nice in your brain. Um, So don’t get I’ve. We’ve been interviewing recently for a physician and we’ve had some planners come in and you know, that they try and address the problem with like framework after framework, after framework, but they can’t necessarily answer why they’ve used that.

And I think. You can get stuck in that hole where you’re not applying your own thinking. You’re just trying to apply other people’s, which is a bad place to be. Ah, love it. Um, makes a lot of sense. And I feel like you’ve got to tell a story as well. Some people get very academic and they’re kind of missing.

That narrative of, of strategy. So yeah, totally, totally feel you on that last one. So, Kelly, I’d love to hear how you got to kind of content strategy at initials. What what’s been your path. Yeah. So mine is probably quite unusual. Although the more I talk to people in the industry, the more I feel like we all end up here in quite unusual ways.

So I started in social media, um, and kind of worked up from a community manager into social media strategy. Uh, but when I say that it was quite granular, so I guess we were doing a lot with page. So there was a kind of media planning component. Um, and then a lot of socialists sort of just really understanding the platforms and the different formats and creative that’s going to work and less about the sort of like idea, I guess, or when we were doing kind of more big ideas.

It was more, it was more editorial. So it was understanding the audiences sort of iteratively thinking about what kind of content we could give them. Um, and then I moved to initials who are a shopper agency, or I guess their heritage is and shocker. Um, but they want it to be much more digital, much more social.

And so they brought me on, um, to kind of help. Push that a little bit. Um, and I sat in the planning team and suddenly really fell out of my dad’s really like, I hadn’t really anxious, like few months where I was like, oh, I’ve made a terrible decision. I really suck at this. Everybody hates me. I’m not adding any value.

Um, and eventually I kind of spoke to them and then they were like super under-resourced and just really, really struggling. And the reality was that a lot of the projects coming into initials were much more kind of. Traditional creative strategy projects or, um, con strategy projects, I guess. Um, and they just really needed the help.

And I was like, do you know what? I’d love to learn this and feel like I was actually adding some value here. And, um, yeah, so I just haven’t looked back. Like they were kind enough to kind of. Take me in and teach me some of the basics. Um, I signed up for loser classes, so, uh, you know, playing Darcy was a really big part of that.

Um, and some of the APG classes, which is a strategy body in the UK. Uh, so that was super helpful. Um, and yeah, I’ve kind of, so I’m actually doing less traditional content strategy. I would say, like, I would. Say that it’s maybe like 20% of the work now. And then, um, the other stuff is kind of more traditional creative planning, so yeah, it’s great.

That’s great. Yeah. I, well, my history as well is I actually started in, uh, social media as well, community management and kind of digital strategy. So I feel like there’s a lot of people coming up that, uh, that path now. Yeah. And I remember when you talked about that, actually it was a real like moment for me where I was kind of like, oh my God, I’m not the only one who’s kind of felt like really lost in the woods with us.

Like there’s other people who are struggling. It was really nice to camp and. Yeah, you’ve been really successful with it. It made me feel a lot, like I can do that

with the, with the academy. You’ve been one of the longest members. So, uh, I know I’ve only been going around. It’s only been going around for about year and a half now, but, um, yeah, as one of the earliest members, what if, what if you found that’s been helpful so far in your day-to-day job? I mean, like, it’s, it’s hard to sort of, um, imagine, but I really like the fundamental self was totally missing from my understanding.

So even the sort of, um, The fundamentals course was super helpful. Um, they get to buy stuff, but I think the real magic moment for me was the comms planning modules. So that was when I sort of realized I had value to give, I guess, because I’ve been kind of doing that on social, but not. Really realizing that’s what I was doing.

And then initials, because they are quite shopper focused. They do a lot of consumer decision journeys as the star of their planning. Um, and so I’ve kind of learned that I kind of learned the sort of, um, I guess flexing the messaging at different points, thinking about different media touchpoints and all of that from my social background.

And suddenly it just came together and I was like, oh yeah, I can see. Okay. Here’s like where I can add volume. So that, that was a, and I go back to that course all the time. I find it really useful. Yeah. That’s, that’s, it’s a big part of it for me too. Cause it’s. Like we’re going through that similar transition from digital and social to the traditional agency.

And it, to me, it’s like the language is a massive thing. You’re like, oh, I can do this. It’s just called something else. Or, yeah. Understand. That’s exactly it. I mean, there was so much, I didn’t even know what a proposition was, you know, like, and my boss kept sort of saying, you know, okay, but what’s your proposition?

And I was like, oh, it’s

but yeah, it’s, it’s there. You just gotta learn the language, learn, learn the way they’ve learned. And then I think you can kind of. Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. Thank you so much, Kelly. That was very helpful. Um, love your tips and, uh, we’ll talk soon. Thank you. Lovely to speak to you. Hope your shoes. Okay. Do that again.


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