13. How to write a plan, from Creative Strategist John Armato

26 Oct

John Armato, senior partner and Creative Strategist for PR firm Fleishman-Hillard in Sacramento, visited our creative strategist class today with some helpful insight on his beliefs on how to succeed in the media, advertising and PR industry. Fleishman-Hillard is the world’s largest PR firm with over 29 practicing groups. They represent the number one or two brands in most categories. At the Sacramento division, Armato works mostly with food and wines.

Creative Strategist – spurred by an evolution, a choice, an opportunity

Armato concentrated on showing us the one thing he had wished someone had showed him when he first started working, and that is how to distinguish and write a plan. First of all, a plan is not a proposal or a presentation. A proposal has to do with asking for an opportunity to create a plan and a presentation is the way you convey that plan. A plan is an interaction between clients, those in need, and counselors, those who can help.

John Armato’s Steps for Creating a Plan

  1. Adopt a counselors frame of mind. [know where you start and where you are going — don’t guess — do appropriate research — start with a thorough briefing — ask every question you can think of — insist on driving at a simple, clear and concise understand of what success should look like]
  2. Don’t mistake what’s possible for what’s right.
  3. Don’t pander. [expectations are important, but remember to counsel]
  4. It’s the “we believe…” statement. [should reveal insight]

During presentation, Armato spent a great deal of time going over the differences between goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. The chart below defines each and shows their places in the planning process. My favorite description  was how he clarified that you have an objective when you can say “We know we’ve been successful when…”


Some helpful tip form John Armato include:

  • Understand it’s not easy and takes time.
  • Test statements against definitions.
  • Use simple, direct language.
  • Beware prepositions, nearly always “by…” or “via…” because it confuses the strategy and the tactic.

The biggest thing I took away from this guest was the concept that you are not stuck in the career that you are training for now. As a young professional I intend to change my mind about what I want to do at least 100 more times. I am learning skills now that will help me not only train me for a career in advertising, but for a career that I enjoy, whatever that may be. I am learning to push myself, grow into new trends and out of old ones. I am using my creativity to spark ideas which, eventually, will lead me to exactly what I want to do. Check out John Armato’s blog.

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