A year of pints with planners

By James Lees

A year ago  Planner Pints started.

It was never intended to be a grand thing, in scale or ambition. (Its got ‘Pints’ in the title after all…)

The idea was really simple. Get Planners together, once a month, in a pub. Just to drink and chat.

From the beginning my mantra for Planner Pints was “ ‘Networking’ is a dirty word.”

Because it is.

The concept of networking is anchored to the idea of seeking career advantage.

It does not = a good time.

For most, ‘networking’ conjures images of some kind of awkward American business card toting hell.

For the rest, i.e. those people who weren’t interested in socialising, but were interested in meeting others solely for career advantage… Well, there’s plenty of networking to be had elsewhere.

Like anyone who has attempted to build an organisation, community, or brand, it was about deciding what the thing wasn’t going to be, as much as deciding what it should be.

So Planner Pints would always have no name tags, no (sober) sermons and importantly, no costs.

Coming up to the 1yr anniversary, I had a think back to what my initial reason was for scouring pubs, booking tables, inviting people through LinkedIn and FB, posting event details, engaging people prior and post each session etc.

Unsurprisingly, it was a selfish one.

I just wanted to meet other planners.

A year later and I’ve witnessed the growth of a diverse social community for strategists; from advertising strategists to shopper strategists to experience design strategists to media strategists to digital strategists to brand strategists to data strategists and so on and so on.

And it’s become more than just a time and a place to meet others that share a similar professional title.


1. It’s a place where you learn something new every time, just through conversation.

And the great thing is those conversations can be with a strategy intern or a senior planner, someone who works at an agency like yours or a completely different type of creative agency.

But because it’s always a conversation with someone you can consider a peer (a pub will do that to you), rather than the keynote speaker you try to have a quick chat with after a lecture, it’s often a more valuable exchange.


2. And secondly, and perhaps more importantly, there is a feeling that you’re part of a community of smart, creative people.

There’s never an awkward “Hi…”. It’s inclusive and everyone that comes wants to be there. To meet other strategists, drink and chat.


Some people have told me, maybe on the second or third time they’ve come along, that the only awkward thing was deciding to come along in first place.

These are the same strategists that have come to every single Planner Pints since.

We’ve had ‘regulars’ leave us for greener pastures such as China, India and France. (Chris, Srin, and Chloé, you are missed!)

We’ve had 22yr old strategists pulling Christmas crackers with 52 year old strategists. (Not naming names here!)

And we’ve even had, (and this is perhaps my favourite growth metric) a graphic designer tell us that his Tinder date had to cancel on him because she was going to “Something called ‘Planner Pints’ ” (Again, no names!)

This Thursday (02/06/2016) it’s the 1yr anniversary of PP, starting at 6:30pm on the rooftop bar of the Golden Bee just off of Old Street.


And like any meaningful anniversary, we’ll be sharing some surprising news with all of you that we think you’ll like. (Yes. We’re pregnant…)

So if you’re a strategist or if you wish you were (and yes, I’m looking at you young account folk here)…

Come along, have a drink and a chat.

Sword & Stone Social Impact Unit

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