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One of the things my advertising research professor repeatedly emphasized throughout the class was that brand planners (those people that figure out what consumers want and how they rationalize their buying habits) have to be chameleons. By this, she meant that brand planners must be able to get along with people from all walks of life, no matter how weird or disturbing they might find the consumers’ lives to be.

Also, brand planners have to be able to insert themselves into social situations with consumers if they want to retrieve any valuable information. I think journalists need that same ability. We’ve got to be chameleons, too. We have to be able to blend into the story’s environment.

The key is adaptability.

We’re not in Romania yet, but we’re already running across some logistical obstacles. While the situation is stressful, we realize that we’ve been dealt a certain hand and we’re going to adapt. This stuff happens, and we can’t control it. But we can control how we respond, so we’re creating a backup plan for a new set of circumstances.

When I was soliciting advice from photojournalists, one of them told me about a trip of his overseas. He was going to be in this country for a week and he had absolutely nothing with two days left. He had an enormous amount of pressure on him because his editors would have been slightly upset if he arrived with no good story/photos after spending a week abroad. Since what he was doing wasn’t working, he switched gears and found a new story/angle to run with. It worked out for him, and we’re hoping what we’re doing will work out for us.

These obstacles will most certainly change our experience, but they won’t stop us. Because we’re like those little lizards that change color. We can be chameleons, too.

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