I got an email from a creative group head today, asking me to give him a call. Naturally ignored him and went straight over to chat. Planners should never be too busy to talk to anyone.
Why? Any excuse to chat to a senior creative should be embraced. And because any chance to break out of the planning bubble should be grabbed with both hands. Let me explain.
If you're a planner it's always hard when you start at a new place, because we struggle for acceptance more than any other department or discipline. Creatives and suits managed quite happily before planners arrived on the scene and in many places they still do. Creatives tend to think they should own strategy while suits tend to think to same, or even worse, can't be bothered with it.
I once worked somewhere where they were doing one of those pointless revamps of the creative brief format, so they did a quick series of interviews with the creatives to find what they wanted from planners and briefs in general. It became quite clear they wanted a say in strategy and in many cases, thought it was their job anyway. They didn't really didn't know what planners did, and to be honest, this is more common than you think.
So when you leave wherever you have worked, where you have hopefully won the respect of everyone and they WANT your input rather than avoid your interference, you have to do it all again when you start at your new place.
It's critical you get to know people quickly, learn what makes them tick and build relationships. It's easy for suits, their day job involves interacting with everyone. It's easy for creatives, their day job involves telling everyone to go away. It's easy for traffic or production, people have to talk to them or nothing gets done.
But planners tend to exist in their own little bubble or corner, quietly getting on with their intellectual (!) doings in splendid isolation. Even if you're lucky enough to sit in an integrated team with suits. planners are just a little more isolated.
So get off your arse and meet people. Find excuses for professional conversations with everyone, but have as many chats about anything as you can. And if you're in your first place, do it even more.
If you're starting out you should:
Make friends with traffic. They know everything that's going on and know everyone. They have to be evil bossy bastards to do their job, but usually, they're the nicest people in the world when they're not telling a suit they can't have it by yesterday. They can also help you find out what makes creatives tick and who to talk to.
Make friends with junior suits. If they're good, they'll rise through the ranks quickly and take you with them.
Creatives are a tough nut to crack. I've always started with bribery. Even as account exec plankton, creatives would talk to me if I was brandishing a tea pot or cafetiere. And include them as early as possible. Pretend you're stuck on a brief (or admit you are) and ask for their help. I guarantee that no creative will get testy over a brief they've had a hand in.
But never stop this. There does come a point when your seniority, or more subtle status, means you get involved by default. But there's nothing worse than losing touch with what's going on and, it doesn't matter what your job title is, the best work comes out of lots of collaborative conversations. I'm convinced the older, senior people lose their dynamism and originality because no one challenges them anymore and they just don't get enough in enough situations to be told something they didn't know.