A DAY IN THE LIFE OF ... Early starts, sandwiches on the run, endless e-mails and plenty of caffeine - when we followed four media practitioners through an average day we found plenty of hard work but little play during office hours (and surprisingly low



Media planning manager on Lever Brothers, Initiative Media

Caffeine consumed one tea, one coffee

Cigarettes smoked one

E-mails received about 45 (a light day)

Units of alcohol consumed during working hours 0 (I don’t drink on


Emotional moments Not my way, I tend to remain on an even keel

7am The day begins with a cup of tea and Chris Tarrant on Capital Radio.

Leave home. I live outside London and have a fairly easy journey, which

takes about an hour door to door. I take an overland train to Clapham

Junction and then change to get to Victoria. On the train I flick

through a Metro I pick up at the station.

9.30am Arrive in the office and grab a coffee before starting work on

the approvals. This is the official sign-off for the media to be bought

across Lever Brothers’ brands and it involves double checking all media

optioned in terms of second lengths, ratings and cost.

10.45am Hold an appraisal for a junior planner/buyer who has been with

us for three months. Fortunately, she passes with flying colours.

11.15am Continue to work on our strategy document for 2001. At the

moment we’re on phase two of our plans for next year. I am preparing for

a presentation to the client tomorrow in which we will demonstrate our

plans for three of the brands. This takes up a fair chunk of my time. I

take some time out from this to look at the phasing - the spend per

month, per medium and per brand (I report on this each month). It’s a

detailed job usually done over a couple of days.

12.30pm The post finally arrives and I flick through New Woman - just to

check on our ads, of course. But I’ll take it home to ’do further


1.15pm Grab a sandwich from the little Italian shop up the road. I eat

it at my desk. I hope I’m helping to break down the myth about

planner/buyers always going out to lunch - in my case it’s completely


2pm Telephone call from a Bournemouth University second-year student who

is booked in for some work experience in a couple of weeks. I’ve barely

put the phone down when a friend of hers calls and asks if there is any

more work. I refer her to personnel who tell her there isn’t.

2.05pm As part of the preparation for the next phase of the strategy

document, I take a look at the competitives on TV for Lever Brothers’

rivals. These show competitors’ media consumption by channel, day-part

and station.

3pm Phone call from a client to say he is about to brief the creative

agency on an innovative media idea we came up with. Unfortunately it is

being optioned to another Lever brand first, so I have to tell him to

hold fire. I then talk to various planner/ buyers about press

negotiations that are ongoing and put in a few calls to media companies

but nobody is there - maybe they’re all still out to lunch!

4.30pm Today’s e-mail influx was a light one but I’ve yet to read a

couple of them. Meanwhile, there is the presentation to check through

for tomorrow and messages to respond to.

6pm Pop down to the agency’s cafe/bar for a Coke. Monday is a

non-drinking day so I can rebuild my stamina for the rest of the week. I

return to my desk.

7.30pm Leave the office, remembering to grab my copy of the Evening

Standard to read during my train journey home.


National sales manager, Amra

Caffeine consumed four coffees

Units of alcohol during working hours 0

Cigarettes Non-smoker

Emotional moments one

E-mails received 26

4.30am Wake up to Radio 5 Live’s Andrew Neil. When I first started

working here, I was nicknamed Ernie - my colleagues joked that if I get

up this early I must do the milk round before work. Then they decided I

got up earlier than the milkman. I don’t have too much breakfast, just a

glass of hot water and a bowl of cereal - I’m in training for the New

York marathon next year so I’m trying to keep my diet in check.

5.20am Leave home. I live in Northamptonshire and it is a 20-minute walk

to the station. I travel on the Midland mainline into St Pancras which

takes about an hour. Then I have a 20-minute tube ride to the


7. 30am Arrive in the office. I’m almost always the first person in. Why

do I do it? I like to get a clear run at the day, at this hour I can

catch up on my e-mails and scan through the press. Today I read The

Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times website and answer my


8.15am The first cup of coffee of the day and I start work on a couple

of on-going projects. One includes a meeting with a client and its

agency tomorrow, which requires preparation. The second is a project

that is due to begin at the end of the summer. At this stage it is just

schedule planning and pulling together relevant information from other

publishing sectors.

10am Meeting with the creative team. A client has asked us to come up

with ideas for a project under proposal, so it’s an opportunity for a

bit of a brainstorm. We need to present the initial results next week

and get the client’s approval.

10.45am A chance to look over the budgets for next year and the figures

for the team.

12pm Go into a two-hour brainstorming meeting with an independent

consultant about a project under development. We want to integrate

press, TV and local radio for the project, which is scheduled for the

end of the year. Sandwiches are included!

2pm Phone call from a client who wants us to prepare a national brief

for a meeting on Monday. This means most of the afternoon is going to be

taken up doing this and preparing a presentation for tomorrow.

3.30pm Zenith rings to book a regional test for a national campaign,

which we then book with the publishing centres. It has only taken a

month for this campaign to be confirmed by the client and booked, which

is good when you consider a three-month lead time is quite normal.

5pm The Employee of the Quarter is announced in the boardroom. As soon

as this is over I leave the office for the journey back to

Northamptonshire, taking a proposal with me to work on during the



Senior planner/buyer on Mercedes and FT Marketwatch, BJK&E

Caffeine consumed seven cups of coffee

Units of alcohol during working hours 0

Cigarettes Non-smoker

Emotional moments 0

E-mails 41

6.45am Wake up to Chris Tarrant on Capital Radio. He annoys me so much

that he gets me out of bed.

7.15am Leave home. I live in Wimbledon so travel I to work on the

Northern Line reading Metro. Today it took about 40 minutes, although it

isn’t always reliable.

8am Arrive in the office. I was out of the office yesterday, so I was

greeted by 32 e-mails and about 17 telephone messages. I work through

the e-mails, fortunately spotting a client request to put together a

strategic proposal for tomorrow morning.

9am Half an hour of preparation for an FT MarketWatch meeting at 9.30am.

We discuss media proposals post-launch. This involves evaluating which

media placement worked and discussing the research findings,

second-stage budgets and objectives.

11am Come out of the meeting to more messages. Pick up calls from a

company selling ads on the Oxford to London coach, several copy

enquiries from magazines and one from a company that wants to use a

Mercedes in its ad. This involves another call to the client about

sourcing a car. I then return more calls to media owners - we are

optioning space for a corporate campaign. I cancel my lunch with

Newslink because I’ve too much to do.

12pm Get to work on the presentation for tomorrow morning. After half an

hour I have to meet a media sales person from a corporate fleet group of

titles to discuss a forthcoming campaign we are booking.

1pm Nip out for a sandwich and a can of Coke from the cafe across the

road. I eat at my desk while working on the presentation. Meanwhile,

take calls from The Daily Telegraph, Elle, Motorsport and a client.

2.30pm An internal meeting about the company awayday later this month.

We’ve all been put into teams to work on improving different aspects of

the business. Ours is new business.

3pm Leave the meeting to meet Nick from TalkSport to discuss a Mercedes

vans campaign. Then back to my desk to check e-mails. Fortunately, there

is just an invite to a stag weekend.

4.30pm Write a letter to C Class awards finalists to say what they

should put in their presentations. Another influx of e-mails, including

my regular news updates from ft.com. Then a phone call from a client who

wants information on share publications, which I then find and ring back


5pm Chat with our team planner Katie about a Mercedes trucks campaign.

She runs through a presentation.

7.30pm Finish the presentation for tomorrow. Leave the office and retire

to The Coach and Horses.


Client and strategic sales manager, Channel 4

Caffeine consumed six cups of tea

Cigarettes smoked 0 (none for 360 days, six hours)

Units of alcohol consumed during working hours 0

Emotional moments three - one high, two low

E-mails received 27

7.15am Wake up to the Today programme on Radio 4. I think about going to

the gym but decide my wind-up radio provides enough exercise for the day

(who needs a personal trainer?). Tune in to Chris Evans in the bathroom

and then catch some Big Breakfast before I leave.

8.45am Leave home. I drive in from Battersea which takes about 20

minutes. Usually I flick between Radio 4 and Virgin during the journey

and keep an eye out for our posters - the current Channel 4 campaign for

Big Brother is particularly arresting.

9.45am After a cup of tea I go straight to a meeting with the research

department to talk about future projects. These include ongoing research

into the dotcom and fragrance markets and E4, our new entertainment

channel, which will launch in January.

10.45am My scheduled agency meeting has been cancelled so I make

preparations for a client visit to the Hollyoaks set at Mersey TV.

11.45am Finish writing a client presentation. This includes a quick

rehearsal in a vacant office, which prompts some bemused looks from my

colleagues as they peer through the Venetian blinds. Then I continue our

preparations for the Marketing Forum conference on the Aurora in

September. Make a phone call to Chris Locke at MediaVest, who advises me

I could lose two stone of ugly fat by cutting off my head, giving me all

the confidence I need for my Media Business photocall this


1pm Sandwich on the run en route to the Harvey Nichols sale, but the

only thing that fits is the cubical curtain. The cab driver gives me a

copy of the Daily Mail ,where I read about - and totally relate to - Tim

Henman’s temper tantrum at Wimbledon.

2.20pm Meeting with colleagues about reallocation of office space -

trying to fit in more people is proving a logistical nightmare.

3pm Photo session with the lovely photographer from Media Business, who

lulls me into a false sense of security but refuses to let me wear my

pashmina as a yashmak. Returning to normality, I have a panic about a

day-long client event that is coming up soon. I brief my colleagues in

trade marketing to come up with some enticing invites.

4.15pm Meeting with new-business manager in sponsorship. We are looking

for sponsors for T4 and drama, among other things. Return to desk to

find a message from my financial adviser reminding me to make a will,

and then pick up an e-mail about giving blood. Is someone trying to tell

me something?

5pm Remainder of afternoon spent making appointments with clients and

writing letters.

6.20pm Leave the office. In the car I talk to my boss, who is currently

on jury service, and then tune in to The Archers, completing the

transition from one funny farm to another.