Over the weekend I was chatting with a friend who is a university lecturer and PhD about their work. They called me “the most academic non-academic I’ve ever met”, which I think was a compliment…
We were discussing how one of their projects was going and I was struck by how very different the agency Planning process (as I’ve experienced it) when leading to a communications campaign is compared with what I’ve learnt about the academic journey towards publication.
My friend’s the academic’s typical research process (although of course not reflective of all branches of academia!) is very much about depth rather than breadth, focusing on depth interviews and ethnographic immersion, while I think I’d struggle to get a proposition for a big campaign past a client without having done enough groups (which, ideally, the client had viewed some of) to be halfway to a century on headcount. And I know clients that won’t sign off anything that doesn’t have a quant element to justify it.
In contrast, the Planner’s review process (ask fellow Planner and/or Account Director for feedback and perhaps run past commissioning client before the presentation) seems rather light compared with academia’s present-paper-at-conference-and-take-questions, re-write paper, peer review paper, edited by publisher and so on.
Which of us has got it right? Breadth or depth? Extensive review or speed to ‘publication’? It’s certainly provided food for thought and I’m going to try and build more ‘peer review’ time into my next project.