In conjunction with colleagues from sister consultancy AXON, employees from Madano serve on the CSR Elective, a body formed to guide and promote responsible social programmes and activity on behalf of the two organisations.
In March and April, the CSR Elective hosted a Sustainability Series from Earth Hour (26 March) to Earth Day (22 April) with the aim of learning and sharing ideas that can inspire action. The series kicked off with four weekly TedTalk sessions, one of which has inspired our Healthcare practice to investigate pro-bono ways of supporting organisations combatting the health implications of climate change.
The series culminated with a live Q&A event on Earth Day exploring the link between climate and social justice with Ayo Sokale: chartered civil engineer, project manager and BIM lead for the Environment Agency’s Collaborative Delivery Framework Eastern Hub (Thames Valley, East Anglia and Herts and North London), Labour and Cooperative Councillor and public speaker. Below are some of the highlights of the conversation we had with Ayo.
Q: Can you remember the moment when you realised how connected the issues of climate, economic and social justice are?
A: I would say the first time I could articulate how connected they were was a lot later in my journey. I think I must have been about 25. But the point where I actually noticed it, but couldn’t put into words, was when I was nine and I chose to be an engineer. I chose that to be my tool to make the world a better place.
And that’s because I was growing up in a developing country and witnessed an engineering project that brought infrastructure. But it didn’t just bring economic benefit to the town. It brought healthy changes, such as children who had suffered with bloated stomachs from disease no longer had those diseases because they had access to clean water and better infrastructure. I saw economic infrastructure bring social change and create community cohesion.
Fundamentally, on a subconscious level, I’d actually noticed it at the age of nine, but it was a lot later, when I’d done the studying and the reading on the journey to becoming a chartered engineer, that I could actually put it into words and say: “Oh, these are the three pillars. It’s a social thing. It’s an economic thing. It’s an environmental thing.” So, I knew at nine, but I knew properly at 25.
Q: Which organisations would you say are doing good work at this intersection between sustainability and social justice? For people who want to get involved, where would you recommend they start?
A: The first practical thing I would recommend is actually Surfers Against Sewage. They have this amazing toolkit for tackling single-use plastic in your community, which I think was created with the end user in mind. We follow their toolkit very closely and started off doing litter picks, bringing the community together to understand that there’s this pressing issue of environmental degradation.
We did a mass unwrap with Waitrose, and they do amazing work. They worked in partnership with us and that raised awareness in the community about this issue. And then we started encouraging people to use the free recycling programmes offered by TerraCycle, and that was led by another local community group. We started connecting the dots, working with refill organisations.
So I would start with the toolkit that’s online. You can download it and get started today! It will allow you to put in place a really well-defined infrastructure through which to take positive steps, but it will also get you connected with other social groups doing the same work in your community, which will then allow you to create social and environmental impact, and economic benefits, for your community.
Friends of the Earth are amazing too. They actually inspired me to take action to address some of these causes. A member of Friends of the Earth on Twitter introduced me to the organisation and then I started looking into them myself. That led to my writing a motion about ways of increasing wild flower numbers and bees in a certain town and working with the lead counsellor. So thank you Friends of the Earth for sparking that innovation. Everyone should check them out. They are an amazing resource and they just know so much.
Q: What steps can communications consultancies like us take to support local communities who are suffering negative environmental impacts such as air pollution?
A: As a communications company you have a complete skillset that could be useful. For example, communities in areas affected by high air pollution are often deemed hard-to-reach, but actually they just need more engagement that’s specific to them. So you could run campaigns aimed at those communities to raise awareness of the health risks they’re suffering, but also explain how they can play a role in tackling that risk.
For example, they could sign a petition to ask their local council to reconsider the local plan and see what they can do to change it. I think a lot of communities are unaware of the risks they face and just need the right communication tools. Maybe Madano, with the communication skills, knowledge and experience you have, could do some of that work, particularly through your CSR Elective.
Q: How can we talk to clients and get them to buy into this? How can we speak their language and make them understand that this is beneficial for everyone?
A: Align the conversation with the clients’ KPIs. As a consultancy, you have to understand your clients’ needs almost as well as they do, so you know the desired outcome and how they’re measuring their own performance. So align this environmental justice work with their KPIs and explain it in terms of CSR or their net-zero targets, and then you can influence them through that self-benefit. Make it matter to them.
Q: As a civil engineer, what more should your industry be doing to play its part in combatting climate change?
A: Starting with a positive example, the Thames Tideway in London has not just delivered a project, but removed plastic from the river and its banks, and transported material using barges instead of HGVs. But as an industry that has a huge potential to create assets and increase energy expenditure, the questions we need to ask ourselves are: “Do we need this infrastructure in future? Should we retrofit our infrastructure? Should we focus on asset management and get away from creating new capital assets? If we are creating capital assets, what standards should they meet? Not just BREEAM Excellent, but how can we go beyond that?”
So we’re facing the challenge of whether we should be building new assets and, when we consider that, we really have to think about the problems we’re trying to solve. Because that’s what we do as engineers: we solve the problems of the day.
Inspired by Ayo’s rallying cry, members of the CSR Elective have already joined Friends of the Earth, and stopped eating meat. If you’re interested in working with organisations who are driving positive environmental change to shape the future, then check out Madano’s latest vacancies: http://madano.com/careers/
We’ve all heard of the “January Blues” – but what about Blue Monday?
“Blue Monday” is the name given to the third Monday in January (this year, it falls on the 17th) and is believed to be the ‘most depressing’ day of the year. With the gloomy weather and Christmas celebrations ending, combined with it being a Monday, it’s not hard to see why. The term came about in 2005, when Sky Travel revealed the date in a press release after appointing a psychologist and mental health expert, Dr Cliff Arnall, to calculate the date through an equation. The formula, which is based on the main factors that are most likely to contribute to low mood, is:
These are the factors in the equation:
W = Weather
D = Debt
d = Monthly salary
T = Time since Christmas
Q = Time since failing our new year’s resolutions
M = Low motivational levels
Na = The feeling of a need to take action
Although this equation has been debunked as ‘pseudoscience’, it serves as a reminder that a low mood is not always caused by one thing, but rather a variety of reasons. Dr Arnall has later said that he didn’t actually mean to perpetuate doom and gloom by identifying the date, but instead saw it as “a bid to encourage people, where possible, to take a positive outlook on the time of year as an opportunity for new beginnings and change.”
Neurodiversity refers to the concept that individual differences in brain functioning are as normal as diversity within the human population. This not only encompasses mental health disorders, but also autism, ADHD and learning difficulties. This concept steers our perception away from accepting neurotypical as ‘normal’ and seeing the brain as being as diverse as people. This is one of the reasons why some people might breeze through certain occasions (in this instance Blue Monday) like any other day, and some might find them particularly difficult to get through.
Whilst Instagram can often be guilty of presenting us with an unrealistically perfect picture, social media has become a platform for some really positive conversations around mental health. But it’s important to look past an isolated campaign and use these awareness days as a reminder that, there are moments (not just on Blue Monday) where we may all feel sad, down, lost, struggling and worried about something in our lives. It’s okay not to be okay and it’s important to not suffer in silence. The struggle is definitely real, especially after nearly 2 years of pandemic uncertainty which the original Blue Monday equation did not account for.
We hope that you take Blue Monday as an opportunity to check in on yourself. Remember that, if you need help, there is a wealth of specialist support services out there for you – here are some of our recommendations:
By now you’ll have read more than enough about 2022 predictions for technology trends as an enabler of everything from the abstract – the metaverse, DAOs and NFTs – to the physical: 3D-printed bone implants, machines that suck carbon from the air, and zero-emissions transport.
Naturally, we’re all very excited about that. However, as we hit 2022 running, what our Madano Technology Team is thinking about – and preparing clients for – are the trends in the landscape itself: the factors the UK’s top innovators will need to contend with as they navigate what will inevitably be yet another challenging, but exciting year ahead.
MADANO’S TOP TECH PREDICTIONS FOR 2022
Demand for technology will rise – but public trust will continue to wane
We’re all carrying a news hangover from yet another year of blow-out headlines dominated by bombshell whistle blower accusations, full-blown security meltdowns and tech executives facing fraud convictions. And yet although there’s a growing contingent of us who might like to, we can’t quit our complex relationships with technology. It’s too entrenched in our lives, touching everything from how we access health, employment and education, to how we engage in personal relationships, social issues, climate change and politics.
Trust in tech is waning, and that’s a problem for firms big and small – and one they cannot simply innovate away from. The winners of 2022 will be those who not only authentically understand public concerns around privacy and transparency – but who seek to meaningfully address them. Effective and active communications will play the starring role in that.
The talent crunch will intensify
Robots, AI and automation are here. And yet they’re not out to take our jobs – in many cases, they’re creating a lot of them. In 2021, high-tech jobs shot up 50% over 2020, with over 160,000 postings in November alone. In 2022, we don’t see signs of that slowing.
Firms looking to start or scale-up with the best and brightest talent will need to put forward an attractive employer brand to cut through intense competition. Mature companies will need to prioritise retention in the face of the Great Resignation.
On the policy front, this will lead to an increased focus on high-tech talent immigration, such as that tabled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the Autumn Budget, and high-tech skills-development for both the current and future workforce.
Fierce competition for cash…
Last year brought the best-ever year for tech in the UK, with £29.4bn in venture capital investment (up 2.3x), a record 37 listings and 29 new unicorns, demonstrating a significant appetite from investors that is set to continue into 2022. And if the Autumn Budget 2021 is any indication, we can also expect that government will find more ways to ramp up its Science Superpower ambitions with further focus on domestic R&D and international investment incentives.
With the UK becoming an attractive alternative to Silicon Valley, we can expect in 2022 to see even more global and local market entrants, while existing innovators eke out a bigger piece of the investment pie. Competition – particularly in fintech, payments and logistics – will be fierce.
… And attention
More investment = more tech companies = a crowded media landscape, lobbying circuit and social media newsfeed.
As in recent years past, many innovators will tout novel solutions – but in reality, they will be up against many others who do the same. They will also face a public now fully inundated with options.
How these firms position their tech, founders, and executives will define the cut-through they achieve. With that in mind, our new year’s resolution for start-ups is simple: let 2022 be the year of matching your external presence to your internal ambitions. Build proudly in public, embrace the massive media potential of the Twitter newsfeed, and use the power of creative digital to unlock opportunities.
Tech for good will breakthrough
2021 brought us weather terms we never wanted to learn, from polar vortexes, heat domes, to a horrifying “eye of fire.” It also brought us significant healthcare access challenges caused by the ripple effects of the pandemic. If we are to believe that 2020 was the year these issues shot to the fore in our collective consciousness, then 2021 was the year that consciousness matured.
But it’s not all bad news, and we like to end things on a positive, which is why our final prediction for 2022 rests in our belief that it will be the year of tech for good. There’s more money and talent in climate, health, life sciences and agrifood tech than ever before, and judging by the UK’s top 2021 tech winners, we can expect these firms to land more investment – and hopefully adoption – this year.
Regardless of what happens in 2022, we can be sure that it will be another big, turbulent and exciting year for technology. Are you a tech worker, founder or investor who wants to share your perspectives with us? We’d love to hear from you. Be sure to drop us a line at: [email protected].
With the COP26 presidency still sat with us, the UK Government is keen to maintain its leadership position, Madano’s Energy team provides advice to some of the most exciting energy projects from Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and nuclear through to solar and wind. Our team is focused on connecting projects to the most influential stakeholders supporting the UK’s net zero and levelling up agendas. Looking ahead to 2022, here are some of our predictions about trends and opportunities within the energy sector:
1) Will SMRs start to happen, or will fusion make the grade?
With Hinkley Point C, Sizewell C and even Bradwell B securing sizeable column inches in recent years, Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) have always been seen as exciting, but something for tomorrow. However, will Qatari investment to the tune of £80m coming into the Rolls Royce consortium be enough to progress to the next phase of supply chain readiness and site selection? They had better get a move on with a number of exciting fusion companies that are hoping 2022 will be the year to recreate the sun and limitless clean energy.
2) Do people really understand what Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) is?
Our Energy practice has witnessed varying levels of understanding of CCS in 2021 – from being compared to nuclear geological storage and explained using chocolate biscuits and mugs of tea. There is a need for companies to communicate what CCS means for net zero more clearly. Part of this will be to look past transporting CO2 relatively short distances to geological storage sites and understanding how emitters that aren’t close to storage sites can harness this technology, maybe by boat or truck.
3) Will we have the honest debate about the need for oil and gas?
We saw in recent weeks that the Cambo oil field has been vaunted as a massive win for environmental campaigners, but equally we have seen the Faroe Islands double down on new exploration. With the wrangles around Nord Stream 2 and Russian exports from Yamal, we are still going to be using considerable volumes of oil and gas in our daily lives through to 2050. With the electrification of platforms starting to come forward, there does need to be an honest debate around our longer-term dependency on hydrocarbons and where Direct Air Capture or nature-based solutions can offset our needs.
4) Low Carbon Hydrogen
Ever increasing hype around the potential for hydrogen was seen in 2021 with major investments and dedicated funds launched to promote innovation and investment. More will be unveiled in 2022, as the UK Government looks to publish its draft Heads of Terms for the forthcoming Hydrogen Business Models in Q1-2, and it has already begun the process engaging with end-users to support the development and scaling up of hydrogen technologies. Industry will continue to match and even exceed the Government’s ambitions in this sector, with trade associations like Hydrogen UK, supported by Madano, serving to support key departments to move from strategic thinking to deeper work with the sector to deliver a fully-fledged value chain.
5) Will we see a moratorium on new energy from waste facilities?
Energy from waste assets is seen as highly valuable. With money flowing in from private equity and pension funds, the sector is now mobilising around carbon capture and storage technologies. However, there is ever increasing pressure on the thermal treatment of waste, and its perceived impact on recycling rates. Wales has come out with their own moratorium on large, new scale EfWs to curb development appetite. Further parliamentary debates have asked the same question and now an open letter has been signed with cross-party support. Future proposals will need to be equipped with a clear narrative and be compatible with net zero ambitions.
What are the digital trends we’ll see in 2022? We asked members of our digital and also our technology teams what they expect to happen next year. Find out what they had to say below.
1) Social audio turns up the volume
With the launch of Twitter Spaces, social audio has finally hit the mainstream, with brands and influencers eager to take advantage. Inherently experiential in nature, it drives a captive audience who are keen to not miss out on timely content. However, brands should be wary of potential damage from aligning with potentially chaotic proceedings. Equally, publishers will need to take responsibility for safeguarding, while also delivering measurable insights for brands as it increasingly becomes part of the mix.
2) A virtual reality check for Metaverse
Much has been made of Mark Zuckerberg’s dream of Metaverse, and with the newly renamed Meta employing 10,000 staff to work on the project, it’s clear that it will be a central focus for the social media giant in the upcoming years. Many futurologists have excitedly pointed out the possibility of NFT crossover, but is this little more than a pipedream? The expensive price point to engage with the platform, and the lack of interaction with other planned rivals (Epic Games are planning something similar), means another walled garden for fanatics and not necessarily a fundamental shift in how we access social.
3) Subscription saturation
At what point is enough, enough? In the beginning, the lure of platforms such as Netflix was that it had most of the television shows and films you’d ever want to watch. Now we find ourselves having a NOW TV subscription to watch Succession, Apple TV to watch Ted Lasso, as well as Gousto boxes for when we go hungry. The media has been relatively slow to turn to the subscription model, but now we’ve seen the rise of platforms such as Patreon and Substack, which is simply adding to the long list of direct debits each month. Will this mean that journalists and writers are able to create their own community and make revenue from it in the long run? We’re not convinced. This subscription saturation point may push users back towards aggregators such as Apple News, which provides you with all the news you want under one subscription. If only the entertainment industry regressed to such simplicity.
4) Getting regulatory grips on artificial intelligence
In 2022, the UK Government will publish a white paper on how it plans to regulate and potentially legislate for the use of AI technologies, recognising that their advanced use is now stretching the limits of existing frameworks. For the UK’s tech and digital sector, this is an important indication of how the UK plans to act post-Brexit. AI is a sector the Government hopes to see the UK lead in, and to do that it will attempt be more pro-innovation than the EU’s advanced but strict approach, and more hands-on than the US light-touch but comparatively earlier stage regulations. The recent launch of a new Algorithmic Transparency Standard for the UK’s public sector, one of the world’s first, indicates the Government will not shy away from using AI technologies but does expect to have clear expectations in place.
5) Digital advertising will continue to increase
As the United Kingdom enters Plan B of its COVID-19 response, marketers will be quickly rethinking their strategies ahead of the Christmas break and the start of a new year. With footfall dropping in city centres, people stuck at home isolating and no end in sight, it is no surprise that Zenith have forecast that digital advertising will account for over 60% of global ad spend in 2022. The battleground has been set, and those that are quickest and smartest will win. Just look how Peloton won recently, following the Sex and the City spin off. Whether you’re catering towards a B2B, B2C, or even B2E audience, companies will need paid advertising at the centre of their strategies, because without it, not only are you reaching a small percentage of your current audience, but you’ll be also drowned out by those who are ahead of the curve.
To learn more about our digital team and contact us for support, click here.
Also, follow Madano on LinkedIn and Twitter to keep up to date with the team and our latest news.
The AMEC Awards celebrate exceptional works and showcase the importance of research, measurement, insights, and analytics. This informs client strategies and drives the delivery of meaningful and impactful communications.
Our new approach measures the success of scientific publications more effectively, shifting client mindsets to readdress key fundamental questions, such as who publications are for and what value they have.
We’re incredibly proud of this achievement. Insights and evidence are core to our work at Madano, allowing us to maximise the impact of our clients’ communications.
The Madano Insights team specialises in capturing those strategic insights that make the difference for your business. Get in touch with us at: [email protected]
With COP26 now over, we’ve wrapped up some of the event’s highlights – here’s our take on the event that put Glasgow on the map and played host to some critical discussions and international commitments, many powered by the unique orange fizz that is Irn Bru.
GREEN POLITICS ON THE RISE… COP26 was aimed as much at British voters as it was international audiences and was intended to convince the electorate that the Government is leading the world in delivering an ambitious (but pragmatic) switch to net zero. As with May 2021’s regional elections, the current administration is hoping voters connect green with growth and remember this as a high point when they next head to the ballot box.
WALKING THE WALK – Private jets taken by billionaires and key public figures, while lecturing individuals on the climate crisis, was, let’s face it, not a great look. Yet, the one positive conversation to stem from this issue was the importance of moving forward ‘guilt-free aviation’. And it was ZeroAvia that led the charge at COP26 by making the case for hydrogen-powered aviation as THE silver bullet solution to decarbonising air travel. Follow this link to learn more.
IRN BRU IS AOK FOR AOC– While inevitably the focus is on the climate debate at COP26, it’s also nice to see it was a venue for cultural exchange, such as this moment in which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was introduced to the infamous orange nectar. It became quite a talking point for delegates, with opinion firmly split, but a great case study in the power of digital for politicians like AOC to humanise themselves, at a time when trust in public servants is at an all-time low.
GAFFES GALORE – It beggars belief that in today’s digital age, with tech solutions designed to make the execution of events a breeze, they are powerless when it comes to human error. COP26 may have put Glasgow on the map but many couldn’t even wrap their heads around the location of the conference. Even Obama, usually a slick and polished orator, mixed up Scotland with Ireland. And who can forget Australian PM Scott Morrison’s Freudian slip, where he misrepresented tackling climate change as ‘tackling China’ (which went viral). It’s an age-old piece of advice, but when it comes to any form of public appearance – be prepared, or prepare to fail…
GOOD COP, BAD COP…? It was interesting to witness the sheer volume of analysis around whether COP was all it was cracked up to be, so early on in the event. Concerns arose that some countries were downplaying the scale of the 1.5 degrees challenge and Greta dismissed the whole affair as being “blah blah blah”. Following a turbulent two weeks of negotiations in Glasgow, the Glasgow Climate Pact was finally struck and became the headline outcome. As for whether the conference was good, bad, or blah, at the very least it served as a platform to highlight some of the most pressing challenges of our time. Governments alone can’t solve these issues – we all have a part to play. As ever, success will be defined by doing…
At Madano, we’re lucky enough to work with organisations who are using technology, engineering and science to shape the future of sustainability. To talk to us about your strategic communications challenge, please get in touch at [email protected]
Andrew Turner, Associate Director in Madano’s Energy practice, shares his thoughts ahead of COP26. With the Conference finally here, hoards descending upon Glasgow, Greta Thunberg being greeted like a celebrity and the start of the dialogue, it is now time to see what ‘meaningful and effective’ (unsure what this is in Italian/G20 thinking) discussions and commitments (if any) will come from the largest international gathering since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Staying relevant in the energy transition
However, one question keeps bugging me. In our race to Net Zero and the climate change commitments, can we really turn our backs on the past? Ben van Beurden’s comments were stark last week commenting that Shell ‘would not have been welcome’ in Glasgow. Whether we like it or not, Shell is one of the key influencers in the UK’s and global energy sector. Would you want your football team to play their cup final without their one of the most influential players?
We have seen the Global Investment Summit bring together exciting technologies, such as fusion, fuel cell and sustainable aviation innovators (all projects we support at Madano) seeking capital to progress along their development pathways. But with natural gas still making up a significant percentage of our energy system, and likely to do so for decades to come, we still need to look at the role oil and gas majors can play in low carbon transition.
Shell have focused on CCS; BP are a leading presence in the East Coast decarbonisation cluster and are setting 2050 net zero targets and Total have rebranded to the technicolour-dream-coat of TotalEnergies in a bid to communicate their commitment to change. We should not be afraid to acknowledge that the Net Zero, or our orderly transition as it is sometimes known, will be A) expensive B) hard work C) involve oil and gas and coal too, especially in the developing world. We can’t simply reinvent out way to a low carbon transition.
Accepting that we can’t forget the past
When we talk about ‘difficult choices’ we see the COP26 President Alok Sharma finding it ‘difficult’ to commit either way on Andrew Marr. We know that there will be changes to our lifestyles – whether that be subtle comments about eating less meat, or increases in taxes for long-haul flights. Things are changing.
The deeper communications issue for me, is the reality that every day we use oil and gas. Whether we like it or not, oil and gas underpins all our activity. We can’t drive our cars, drink a bottle of water or work on our laptops without it. Hydrocarbons play a key role in our society, however, this is not communicated clearly enough by organisations, individuals, and governments. Sure, there can be eye catching headlines from the PM about plastic recycling not working. Focusing exclusively on wind farms, battery plants and fusion distracts from key issues, such as where the oil and gas is going to come from to sustain our lifestyles and how we can ensure this is as low carbon as possible.
The central challenge is how we transition away from these sources of energy, as quickly as possible, but recognising some industries cannot simply be electrified at the flip of a switch. Project narratives and communications plans need to acknowledge the energy mix, today, tomorrow and in the decades to 2050. Stakeholders, whether that be investors, communities or the media are demanding more and more information to make their own decisions about how investments today will impact balance sheets and dividends in our Net Zero society.
What to expect from Glasgow?
We have already seen strong language from the PM around the clock ticking to midnight, Prince Charles coming to the table and Glasgow being the ‘best, last hope’ to hit our 1.5-degree ambition. The UK ranks 5th in the league table for cumulative carbon emissions and this means we have a sizeable role to play in supporting global decarbonisation. One of the core pillars of this COP is to increase financial support for the developing world to deliver $100bn climate financing a year alongside greater collaboration.
Looking closer to home, big issues like Cambo or continuation of hydrocarbon production will not be resolved this week, but with organisations calling for quicker and more transformational change to Net Zero we must recognise that our lifestyles can’t be left behind.
Madano Energy practice advises clients in the energy transition, infrastructure, and development sectors to shape their narrative, engage with Government and stakeholders and to communicate their objectives in creative and impactful ways. If you would like to speak to the author, Andrew Turner, or a member of the team, please contact us: [email protected].
Inspired by more than three and a half decades of his own experience in broadcast media, journalism, PR and communications, Mark Dailey, Partner at Madano, has distilled his expertise into an insightful business guide that explains why the core skill needed by future leaders is authentic and effective communication. ‘A Leader’s Guide to Storytelling: Restoring Authenticity in a World of Change’, has been published by Routledge and is now available from Amazon and Waterstones.
You know the cliché about the tyranny of the blank page when you’re faced with writing anything from scratch. Well the thing about clichés is that they are based on truth.
Imagine sitting down to start an entire book – forget tyranny. More like full-blooded revolution.
And yet the idea of writing this book had been building for a while as clients kept asking me to recommend one communications book that pulled everything together in one place – how to present, deal with the media, show empathy, weave in emotion, connect with audiences, show empathy, deal with PowerPoint and get to the point – all the topics I have covered in training and coaching sessions for the past decade. To be honest, I couldn’t think of one book that dealt with everything.
And so when COVID hit, the decision to fire the starting gun on the book was relatively easy. If not now, when would I get another chance like this? The sheer disruption of COVID – and the ‘end of days’ tone adopted by too many journalists – seemed to make everything a bit more urgent. Plus, at 63, you don’t have unlimited time to procrastinate.
I was lucky. Because I had worked in television for over a decade, I was used to writing to deadline.
And I had a built-in framework for what I wanted to do. I would use the structure I follow in most of my communications work – audience, content, and engagement – to set out what good looks like in the beginning part of the book.
But COVID intruded my thoughts again. It seemed to me that the pandemic was accelerating disruptive and fundamental technological change and how people felt about a host of social justice issues. This swirling cauldron of change seemed to me to be ushering in a demonstrably different landscape in which leaders would be communicating. And so the idea of setting the scene and providing a contextual wrapper for what good communication looks like was born.
I revisited some interesting research we had done as a strategic communications agency, back in 2012, looking at the emerging ‘changing communications landscape’ then and updated some key themes and takeaways.
The book began to take shape as I thought about what would be needed from leaders intent on helping their organisations navigate this fast-changing world.
I wanted the book to deliver on the initial premise – which was to provide a guide to what good ‘looks like’. So, I deliberately set this out in some of the most common and important types of communications that all of us face in business: pitching our ideas, presenting, facilitating events or small groups of people, managing team meetings, giving interviews and on to bigger assignments such as driving change and handling crises.
The final ‘missing ingredient’ was that the more I thought about what good looks like – what people regularly say in giving feedback about what they felt was most effective and moving in someone’s communication – the more this equated with what I felt was most needed on the societal front. That is a restoration of authenticity to our communications.
And so in the last part of the book, I tried to articulate what the authentic leader looks like and why these qualities of integrity, compassion, kindness, humility and trust will become even more important as times get more uncertain and change gets faster and more complex. Having become a business coach 10 years ago, I found that the coaching dynamic is probably our best template for what authentic leadership communications looks like.
The book took about six months to write and seven months to edit – and then into production. It contains lots of case studies and observations on the good, bad and ugly that I’ve seen in my 38 years in communications.
Probably the biggest takeaway from the entire book is the idea that the one thing we always fear overdoing – is the one thing audiences crave the most – the off-piste moments when we let our hair down and speak with real emotion and honesty about what is really important. How seldom do we see or hear this and yet it is precisely this kind of meaning that people crave the most.
By Mark Dailey, Partner at Madano. Mark specialises in corporate and strategic communications, media training, facilitation, and transformation/crisis communications. To find out more about how Mark and the Madano team could help you, please get in touch at [email protected].
During the month of October when World Mental Health Day is celebrated, Madano has been proud to be a pro-bono partner to the London-based charity Youmanity and lead the media strategy and press office for ‘Inner Journey’ – a project promoting passenger wellbeing on the DLR Network.
Twelve carriages across the entire DLR network were transformed to reflect mountains, forests, oceans, and countryside. Commuters can also download the complimentary Brain Recharge app to access meditation tracks, offering a full immersion into nature, and an opportunity to enjoy a moment of calm whilst on their commute.
Madano had the opportunity to join Youmanity on the launch day and see the changes in action. Madano’s Bethan Neil, Marketing and Brand Coordinator, was at Canary Wharf when the project was unveiled to commuters starting their daily journey and said of the campaign: “It’s a great initiative that I hope to see extended onto more train lines. The modifications are visually striking and genuinely do help you feel calmer – commuters were stopping in their tracks and taking notice of the dedicated areas on platforms and carriages. Mindfulness has become ever more important, especially after the last 18 months. Access to free, high-quality meditation services has the potential to benefit so many people.”
Head of Madano’s Healthcare practice Katy Compton-Bishop explains the importance of working with clients who are shaping the future, “Partnering with organisations driving change in the mental health space is one of the most rewarding elements of our work at Madano. This a fantastic campaign, with an important message, that we were delighted to be able to support. We are passionate about using communications to positively impact people’s lives and our work with Youmanity is a great example of that.”
If you’re interested in learning more about how Madano can help with your communications challenge get in touch at [email protected].
The AMEC Awards celebrate exceptional works and showcase the importance of research, measurement, insights, and analytics.
“We’re so excited to receive the acknowledgement from AMEC in being shortlisted for two awards – it’s a real testament to the Insights team’s value-creating work and innovative thinking, and particularly Tara’s input into this. I’m incredibly proud of Tara for being recognised as a finalist in the Young Professional of the Year category.” Hanna Williams, Research Director
The Madano Insights team specialises in capturing insights that make a difference to your business. Through a strategic and communications-focused approach, we make the most of big data and innovative insights to complement and contextualise quantitative analytics.
Our Insights practice is growing. To join a dynamic and passionate team within a purpose-driven culture, visit our careers page here.
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