When I tell people I am a strategy intern I get a lot of confused responses. “Strategy” is a buzzword in the communications industry that can mean many different things. Not many people understand how vital good strategic planning is to creating good advertising. Because of this confusion I thought I would use this blog post to explain the role of the strategy department as it relates to my internship at Tierney.

A good strategist should know your client’s potential customers better than anyone else at the agency. This process starts with research. Strategic planners do extensive primary and secondary research about consumer perceptions and behaviors. This research can include surveys, focus groups, and in-depth interviews. At Tierney the strategy team works very closely with the account team to find new secondary research articles about our clients’ target audience. They also are constantly looking at competitors and keeping track of what marketing messages they send.

Just doing research isn’t enough. A bunch of data is meaningless if it can’t be appropriately applied to an ad campaign. Strategic planners look through the data for key insights, or pieces of human truth that reveal what a consumer really wants. Then, they use these insights as a basis for writing the creative brief.

Once the creative brief is written the strategic planner’s job doesn’t end. They observe all creative messaging to make sure it fits the research and is “on strategy” with the brief. They make sure the creative takes a clear stance so its message doesn’t get lost in the cluttered advertising landscape. Throughout the entire process they act as “the voice of the consumer.”

I have learned so much interning in the strategy department at Tierney. The best way to learn anything is learn from the best and I am incredibly lucky to have had the chance to do that. Thankfully I recently found out that the learning will continue and I will be interning at Tierney until the end of the summer.