Welcome to raw communications planning
A view from Sue Unerman

Welcome to raw communications planning

YouTube has been everywhere recently. Buses, posters, magazine features and the BBC. An episode of The Apprentice featured the candidates making a YouTube video and collaborating with stars on the platform to promote it, thus proving once again that not everyone can be funny or clever enough to go viral.

YouTube stars have also visited MediaCom's offices recently. The very charming Simon Wear, Barry Taylor and Caspar Lee answered questions about how to win on YouTube.

They were all naturally keen to collaborate with brands. Lee, the boyband-esque star of his own channel, which has more than three million subscribers and more than 160 million views, told us brands need to be "open-minded" and trust his insights.

"I have to explain to older people why it's OK for me to swear – I know my generation," he explained. He's very keen on what he called "collab-ing" with brands that come with an open brief to do what he thinks best.

This echoes the views of Will Hayward, the vice-president of BuzzFeed. He draws a sharp contrast between brands that want to get noticed and those that try to get shared.

Does this require a new kind of creative agency? Is the world changing faster than the rules of media? Or have there always been media owners that have requested that brands invest their money as the they think best, that have always said "Lay your money down and we will look after your best interests"?

Most advertising is still about getting noticed. And a standard reach plan may still satisfy. But you can't have your cake and eat it. Brands that are using content to drive brand warmth must consider what makes that content shareable and listen to the new experts – people such as Lee.

This requires a new breed of communications thinking. And it has its place in most plans. This isn't about using media to get across a message that has been carefully cooked up in a creative agency. This isn't about using media to put the cherry on top of the icing on the cake. This is delivering your recipe and some raw ingredients to the content creators and "collab-ing" with them so that they mix up the flour, sugar and eggs in the right way to make your cake the most shared and talked about.

This requires a shift to shared risk and reward as a trading model. And the highest attention to detail in the full system around the content and real-time course correction at the media agency. This is raw communications planning.

Sue Unerman is the chief strategy officer at MediaCom