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The default disposition of strategists. Image courtesy of Traci Bunkers

According to new research by the IPA we are overwhelmingly happy with in our jobs and optimistic about the future.


The IPA Strategy Group (membership required to view link) surveyed 166 strategists in the UK communications industry. You can read the debrief for yourself below but here is a flavour of the results.
Jon Steel, John Grant, Jeremy Bullmore and Stephen King emerge as the most respected figures in the business while the more inspirational writers include Jon Steel again, plus Adam Morgan and Russell Davies.
We now have quantified proof that strategists are bleeding heart liberals since our favourite newspaper is the Guardian by a very long way.
We are an experienced bunch with 75% amassing over 6 years at the strategic coal face and 45% having spent more than 10 years in the business.
We are an overwhelmingly happy lot. 95% of us say we love the job of being a strategist and 91% of us take a strong pride in our work. 87% feel valued by our clients and 81% are very strong advocates of the profession. So that feels rather positive doesn’t it?
We are also reasonably optimistic with 65% of us seeing the profession changing for the better and the place of strategy being assured – 55% of us think clients value strategy over the other agency disciplines. Moreover 40% believe strategists are more likely to get the top jobs in the industry .
All good stuff however there are probably one or two issues that the community needs to start thinking about and that the Strategy Group will begin to address.
1. Gender
While the ad agencies seem to have an even gender split in their strategists others are far more male biased. And taking the community as a whole there are startling differences in the ambitions and aspirations of male and female strategists. Women love the job but many don’t really see themselves as in it for the long haul and are more likely to think about going client side. Under a third of women would consider going it alone compared to half of men thinking they might like to start up one day (very few start ups feature women in the starting line up and even fewer feature a female strategist – I am struggling outside MT in the UK). And even more worrying, women are more likely to feel undervalued and underpaid. In comparison men are far more optimistic and confident about their future role in the industry. Is this make bullshit? Is it simply symptomatic of business as a whole and not isolated to advertising or strategy? Or do we have a problem here?
2. Time
The main obstacle to successful work is seen as time and the time to do really good thinking. To a certain extent we have started to tackle this in the Strategy Group through projects like the Fast Strategy Conference.
3. Experience
Strategists in this survey felt most confident in their understanding of marketing, branding, creativity, market research and that kind of thing – the core skills of the planner. However as a group we are much less confident in the areas of digital, direct marketing, data planning and that kind of thing. and we are downright weak in terms of our experience of sales promotion, PR and design. To this end the Strategy Group is designing an programme to help planners understand the role of strategy across the major marketing disciplines.
Here is the debrief in full.

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