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What Does a Media Planner Do?

Updated on October 15, 2021
Kenna McHugh profile image

Kenna has worked with entertainers, promoting special events with musicians, celebrities and dignitaries.


Media Planner Assistant

The media planner salary is diverse in the film industry, whether a senior planner or assistant media planner. Most media planners work in the marketing departments for film distributors like Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Lionsgate, and MGM. Working with such companies can be rewarding because the marketing of these films is imperative to their success. That is where a digital media planner or social media planner comes to work with the advertising rolling on all fronts: television, magazine, newspapers, the Internet, and radio.

The media planner job is an entry-level profession of the film industry where some consider it the place where you “pay your dues.” I look at it as the place where you “learn the ropes.”

As a graduate media planner, you work very closely with the professionals who market the films. You learn and understand what it takes to film the weekend blockbuster, the coveted DVD, or the instant download.

In a nutshell, it takes long hours and perseverance while making sure all the media outlets are covered. Those outlets include movie websites, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and so forth.

"We are the United States of Amnesia, which is encouraged by a media that has no desire to tell us the truth about anything, serving their corporate masters who have other plans to dominate us."

— Gore Vidal

Market Watch

Sometimes millions of dollars will go into promoting and marketing a movie. Understanding the media as a promotional tool is vital. You need to know where to place the commercials that effectively promote your film—it's called demographics. A media planner needs to have the ability to determine editorial content, programming for potential media use.

For example, Superbowl, Olympics, World Series, Oscars, and high-ranking network televisions shows are where the studios put their advertising dollars. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google, and Snapchat are social media outlets that effectively promote films because the demographics are easy to keep score. The media planner follows up and makes sure the ads run during their allotted time because the studios paid big bucks for that coveted spot.

As a media planner, you are not in charge, but you do get the job done. The studio's executives tell you where, when, and what to air the commercials for the next movie coming out. A whole department team counts on you to get the media booked for the film's promotion and marketing.

A media planner needs to know math to turn the information over to media buyers for the new film. They track the media space and slots available for purchase, negotiate and make sure ads appear, as they scheduled and air exactly per the agreement.


Marketing Planner Job Role

You wouldn't promote a children's Disney movie on the Evening News. You market the film on kid programs or sports shows. Like when kids watch television on Saturday mornings.

Media planners work in large cities like San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Most film distributors have offices in larger communities and promote major films that reflect those cities. Most of the work originates from either Los Angeles or New York because that is where the market happens.

I remember trying to meet with the director of an independent film, and I had to deal with both offices in New York and Los Angeles. I got the interview, which was a successful interview and article all around.

To find any assistant media planner jobs, you have to have excellent people skills, be willing to solve problems, be creative, with excellent communication skills, and use common sense. A media planner for the film industry needs to be in tune with the trades, culture, values, Internet, social media, and audiences. They need to know the latest technology and implementing it for their customer's advantage and success. Working for the film industry as a freelance media planner, you work 50 plus hours a week—it's expected. You have to organize and put together proposals for your department seniors in a short amount of time. Advertising is a high-stress, competitive business, but there is a pay-off in the end – successful movie and a great future in the film business.


Know Your Media

The variety of media available to promote a film seems endless. When you approach the field and are looking for assistant media planner jobs, you would benefit from looking into media planning subdivisions like social media planner, digital media planner, Facebook media planner, Google media planner, and so forth. A graduate media planner needs to know their options and is familiar with each media.

© 2007 Kenna McHugh


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