Madano creates visual map tracking media coverage of COVID-19

Madano creates visual map tracking media coverage of COVID-19

Strategic communications consultancy Madano has launched an online map monitoring and analysing media coverage of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) since its initial outbreak emerged late last year and how that is evolving as the crisis develops. The map, which tracks media coverage using Madano’s ‘topic mapping’ methodology to identify and visualise key themes.

The approach uses a machine learning model to read headlines and places articles within the map, each article is placed closest to those it is most like. Each dot on the map represents a media article about COVID-19 and the articles naturally form into key topic areas. The data covers media reporting from December 2019 up until March 2020 in the UK, US and Canada and is updated on a weekly basis.

The analysis shows three key phases of coverage identified below:

  • Phase 1: The virus is just emerging and concentrated on China and East Asia, initial conversations focus on a ‘mystery’ virus causing pneumonia in China and some speculation as to whether the virus is more like Flu or SARS in its severity.
  • Phase 2: The virus begins to spread outside of East Asia and there is a big focus on financial markets, discussions around consumer confidence, travel restrictions, personal safety of citizens and more emphasis on hygiene practices such as washing hands more frequently.
  • Phase 3: The virus becomes established Europe and North America, reporting on social distancing picks up momentum as well as self-isolation and possible financial repercussions of the outbreak on global economies.

This first analysis shows rapid changes in coverage over the previous weeks as the virus progresses towards Europe and North America. It illustrates the challenges for government and organisations in communicating proactively around an issue that is rapidly changing and impacts society in so many different ways.

Gareth Morrell, Head of Insights at Madano, said: “The COVID-19 outbreak is a crisis impacting all of our lives in ways we probably never imagined and we’re reliant of the right information at the right time to overcome the challenge we face. Therefore, understanding what’s being said in the media and the public domain is crucial as the outbreak situation unfolds. In the coming weeks we will be updating the analysis and looking in more detail at media and social media discussions around the crisis.”

How is the media talking about COVID-19? from Madano on Vimeo
International Women’s Day 2020 – The Women Who Inspire Us

International Women’s Day 2020 – The Women Who Inspire Us

Sunday 8 March was International Women’s Day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s campaign theme was #EachforEqual, promoting the message that we can all actively choose to “challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievements.” With this in mind, members from each of our practices have highlighted inspirational women from different backgrounds and fields that have made huge impacts to our world as we know it.

Margaret Calver – Kat Dominiak (Creative)

Kat Dominiak

Female designers have had a huge impact throughout the history of design and their works are engrained in our everyday lives. It isn’t a surprise that historically the male-dominated graphic design industry hasn’t always had the best reputation for gender equality. However, female designers have played an important role in establishing graphic design as we know it today.

Did you know Margaret Calver’s work has helped to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the UK? Her very simple and easy to understand graphic language is on every single road sign and signpost across the entire country. She helps you get safely to work, school or home. Margaret is a typographer and graphic designer mainly known for her collaborative work with Jock Kinnir on the design of Britain’s roads – she’s a creative icon that had a huge impact on the design industry.

“With talent, dedication, and creativity in spades, women are – and always have been – killing it in graphic design.” – Rebecca Gross

Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw – Elisha Raut (Insights)

Elisha Raut

You might have heard of the term intersectionality somewhere in the stratosphere. Maybe it’s because you’re engaged in critical race theory, or because you once eavesdropped on a pretentious and overly jargonated conversation at a LEON (just me?), or perhaps somewhere in between. In a reductive nutshell, it’s the idea that a person’s lived experience is contingent upon several overlapping axes of their identity, and it’s a foundational concept that was developed approximately 30 years ago by lawyer, professor, philosopher, and theorist, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw.

While the inception of the term was mostly within the context of legal advocacy, where discrimination regarding sex and discrimination regarding race were treated as mutually exclusive entities, it has now pervaded many areas of academic and everyday discourse.

While Crenshaw’s past achievements could span novels, she remains consistently active in educating the masses, not just through academic avenues, but also as a public speaker. Many of her highly engaging and thought-provoking talks are available on YouTube.

Although the term intersectionality has entered the everyday vocabulary of many people who may be characterised as, and sorry in advance for using this term, “woke”, it has also faced criticism from the anti-woke crowd. This is the main reason her continual educational efforts are still invaluable: in the information age, we can (fortunately and unfortunately) still believe whatever we want, whether it is justifiable and evidenced, or not.

Rosalind Franklin – George Mitchell (Healthcare)

George Mitchell

Science is supposed to be paving the way for the future and yet, when it comes to gender equality, it is stuck in the past. At present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and they continue to be overlooked and undervalued in a male-dominated field. Perhaps the most famous example of this is Rosalind Franklin, a chemist and x-ray crystallographer who, in May 1952, captured an image that would quite literally change the DNA of biological and healthcare research.

Franklin’s seemingly uninspiring and blurry ‘Photo 51’ would lead Watson and Crick to discover the DNA double helix, for which they won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Since then, we have sequenced our genome, increased our understanding of genetic disease and even learned how to edit our DNA.

Franklin died in April 1958 from ovarian cancer, possibly caused by exposure to the very x-rays which led to her discovery, something for which she was not recognised until the years following her death. With the Nobel Committee still unwilling to award posthumous prizes, Franklin remains one of the greatest unsung heroes in the history of biology and healthcare research.

Admiral Grace HopperBen Gascoyne (Technology) Ben Gascoyne

While the typical tech sector stereotype is male-led, you should know that some of its earliest and most influential innovators were talented and inspirational women.

That includes Grace Hopper, an American mathematician who began her career in computer science as World War 2 began. Working with the very first computers throughout the 1950s, she pioneered the development of programming languages that were based on natural languages, such as English, instead of abstract mathematical symbols.

That may seem obvious now, but was met with resistance at the time. Delivering her vision for computing made programming more accessible for everyone who followed her and paved the way for the tech giants you know today, like Microsoft and Apple.

Somehow, alongside a hugely successful career in computing, Grace Hopper found the time to rise to the rank of Admiral in the US Naval Reserve. Admiral Hopper passed away in 1992, but today, social enterprises such as the fantastic Stemettes are making sure that girls across the UK can follow in her footsteps and are inspired and empowered to take up STEM careers, including in the tech sector.

Mary Prince – Hoda Awad (Energy and Environment)

Hoda Awad

Mary Prince was a courageous woman who helped to change Britain as we know it. She was an enslaved woman who campaigned in the 1800s for abolition.

In 1829, Mary was the first woman to present an anti-slavery petition to Parliament, arguing for her human right to freedom. She was also the first black woman to write and publish an autobiography, which was a key part of the abolitionist campaign in Britain. It was during that very same year that her peers in the abolitionist movement introduced a bill proposing that any slaves must be freed.

Mary was an inspiring woman who invented political activism almost 100 years before other more well-known movements began to gain traction, such as the Suffragettes.

With modern society becoming increasingly competitive and divided, it is more important than ever that we champion and communicate the achievements of women. We have a shared responsibility to remove barriers and create opportunities so that, regardless of gender, anyone can fulfil their potential. By working together towards gender equality and providing women and girls around the world with heroes and role models, we can inspire the next generation and create an environment from which we can all benefit.

International women's day
Let’s Talk International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Let’s Talk International Day of Women and Girls in Science

Written by George Mitchell, Programme Executive

Take a moment to think about what a scientist looks like to you. The picture I have in my mind is an individual wearing the trademark lab coat and safety spectacles. While trying to decide whether he looks more like Walter White or Emmett Brown, I am struck by the fact that my scientist is undoubtedly a man. Despite the most influential scientists I worked with at university being women, I cannot shake the stereotypical image I was immediately drawn to. I believe this is an unfortunate reflection of a field in which women continue to be overlooked and underrepresented.

Science is supposed to be paving the way for the future and yet, when it comes to gender equality, it is stuck in the past. At present, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and with a lack of role models and equality in the field, only 30% of women choose to study STEM subjects at university.

Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science and, to mark the occasion, I would like to highlight three incredible scientists who made ground-breaking discoveries in the world of science and healthcare.

Rosalind Franklin (1920 – 1958)

Rosalind Franklin was a chemist and x-ray crystallographer who, in May 1952, captured an image that would quite literally change the DNA of biological and healthcare research. The seemingly uninspiring and blurry ‘Photo 51’ would lead Watson and Crick to discover the DNA double helix, for which they won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1962. Since then, we have sequenced our genome, increased our understanding of genetic disease and even learned how to edit our DNA.

Franklin died in April 1958 from ovarian cancer, possibly caused by exposure to the very x-rays which led to her discovery, something for which she was not recognised until the years following her death. With the Nobel Committee still unwilling to award posthumous prizes, Franklin remains one of the greatest unsung heroes in the history of biology and healthcare research.

Tu Youyou (1930 – Present)

During the Vietnam War, malaria claimed the lives of more Vietnamese soldiers than the war itself. Tu Youyou is a pharmaceutical chemist who, in 1969, was appointed the leader of the ‘Project 523’ research group, tasked with finding a cure for malaria. In 1972, after turning to traditional Chinese medicine for a cure, Tu discovered that sweet wormwood had been used 1,500 years before to treat symptoms of malaria.

Tu had discovered the antimalarial medication, artemisinin, which is still used to treat malaria today. Her discovery saves 100,000 lives in Africa every year and has saved an estimated 3 million lives this century alone. However, Tu was not acknowledged for her discovery until 2007 and she would become the first Chinese woman to win a Nobel Prize in 2015, 43 years after her lifesaving work.

Jennifer Doudna (1964 – Present)

60 years after Rosalind Franklin captured Photo 51, American biochemist Jennifer Doudna discovered CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing, argued to be the most significant discovery in the history of biology.

Doudna’s breakthrough has opened the gates to a new era of healthcare research, with endless possibilities and implications, one of which could be finding cures for genetic disease. In recognition of this monumental achievement, she was a runner-up for Time ‘Person of the Year’ in 2016, missing out to a certain President, Donald Trump.

These three scientists achieved their healthcare breakthroughs in a male dominated field, without role models or recognition. The current landscape is unfortunately not as balanced as it should be, and we need to better communicate the achievements of women in science and healthcare to inspire the next generation and possibly, the next great discovery.

Net Zero, electric vehicles and the power of a publicly stated target

Net Zero, electric vehicles and the power of a publicly stated target

On Tuesday the government launched a consultation on bringing forward the ban of petrol, diesel as well as hybrid vehicle sales forward from 2040 to 2035. The idea is likely to be welcomed by environmental organisations as a welcome and necessary next step. At the same time, Tesla recently became the second most valuable automotive company, with a trading value of over £76.7bn. Does this suggest that the market also sees EVs dominating domestic vehicle innovation and consumption in the next 10 years?

There are some who feel that the government’s shifting the target is simply virtue-signalling: on its own this is not powerful enough a mechanism to deliver the required up-take in demand for electric vehicles that would help contribute to the UK’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2050.

The current size and growth trend of the electric vehicle market provides a bit of a reality check for the government target. While the demand for hybrid and electric vehicles has risen considerably over the past few years, the market share of electric vehicles is still only 1.6% in the UK. To reach the target of 100% electric vehicle sales in 2033 or even 2040, our analysis suggests that seriously accelerated growth (see graph) is required.

Hybrid

The reality is that significant logistical and demand-side barriers still stand in the way of such growth. Despite technical innovations increasing EV driving range and lowering costs, the government and industry leaders must tackle the lack of charging infrastructure to give consumers confidence that they won’t be left high and dry when they need to re-charge. Emotive consumer barriers that relate to the familiarity and attachment to the driving experience of petrol vehicles need to be addressed as well.

It’s worth noting auto manufacturers have also cried foul claiming the government has “moved the goalposts” and have accused the PM of setting a “date without a plan” but we’ll save their particular objections for another time.

The paradox is that this transition should be win-win for all. The Committee on Climate Change published a remarkable chart in their recent Net Zero report, which shows huge net benefits are quickly realised from making this switch to EVs.

Hybrid2

Progress to realising these benefits is currently too slow. Targets are often derided but can also have the effect of focusing the mind. It remains to be seen whether this will drive the more concerted and integrated action is required from industry and government to develop the charging infrastructure and better understand public acceptability barriers for a ban on the sales of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars to be workable by 2035.

Madano hires Matt Whiting to bolster growing Insights and Intelligence practice

Madano hires Matt Whiting to bolster growing Insights and Intelligence practice

The UK’s fifth fastest growing communications agency adds wealth of experience to its leading-edge insight offer.

Strategic communications consultancy Madano has hired Matt Whiting as a Director in its Insights and Intelligence practice.

Matt joins from communications consultancy Archetype, where he was a Global Insights & Analytics Director. He also has experience working at Bite Communications, WE Communications and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Building on his educational and occupational background in psychology, Matt has spent the past 13 years supporting clients by helping them to connect the dots between consumer behaviour, industry trends and business needs.

He said of his appointment: “At a time when so many companies, people and countless other forces are competing for our attention, the industry must be smarter and better informed to best help clients break through and connect with key audiences in meaningful ways. Madano has recognised this and I can’t wait to join current projects and continue the team’s good work in growing the Insights and Intelligence practice. Like our clients, we must continue to think differently and approach challenges with innovative ideas that cut to the core of what truly matters. There’s no better place to do this than at Madano.”

Michael Evans, Managing Partner at Madano, said: “Our approach to communications over the last 15 years has been built on insights and it remains critical to helping clients solve the world’s biggest challenges. It’s fantastic to have Matt join the team as his experience will be valuable in helping clients effect behavioural change and tell a more compelling story. ”

Madano’s insights team provides a clarity that drives better, bolder decisions for clients by fusing data science with traditional research methods. Their work underpins impactful and measurable communications programmes that have a positive impact on organisations tackling the big challenges of the 21st Century.

Why advanced stakeholder analytics holds the key to better communications and business performance

Why advanced stakeholder analytics holds the key to better communications and business performance

Written by Dominic Weeks, head of Madano’s technology practice.

Ignorance is bliss goes the age-old adage. What you don’t know can’t hurt you, we’re told. Of course, they’re not always very helpful maxims. In business and other large organisations, there is a growing trend towards continuous improvement and data-driven decision making. But notable exceptions still remain.

Take, for example, the decimation of the political left in most major democratic nations. In a recent essay, political scientist Yascha Mounk argues convincingly that the root cause of the loss of popularity is a fracturing of the shared interests that previously tied together the “bohemian” to the “proletariat”. It is worth a read, but it leaves the impression that many of the changes in voters’ interests and drivers have not been acted upon. It begs a serious question – how can so many organisations which regularly gauge the sentiment of their audiences, across so many countries, have fundamentally become so out of touch. Of course, there are notable electoral surprises that have raised the same questions in recent years.

Still today, we too often make assumptions about what our key audiences’ opinions, motivations and intentions. At best, we ask them to tell us what they are, apparently unaware that the answer they provide could be polluted by all kinds of contexts.

However, the parallel rise of mass digital communications, machine learning algorithms and also behavioural economics, means that the opportunity to observe people’s communications behaviour at scale can create a much more accurate picture of how stakeholders feel about our organisations and related issues, and how they are likely to act in relation to us. Combined with primary research and contact with stakeholders, we can use advanced analytics tools to build a more detailed picture and identify the best areas for focusing attention in order to drive change.

There are manifold areas in which big data analytics and AI are reshaping the communications disciplines, from intensive topic modelling to intelligent marketing automation. However, perhaps the most crucial is what can broadly be termed advanced stakeholder analytics.

Last week, Madano held a roundtable on this subject with people from a broad array of sectors and disciplines to investigate this trend and look at a couple of the most powerful, exciting tools around.

Harry Toukalas, co-founder of Blackhall & Pearl, discussed how machine learning algorithms are being used to analyse internal communications channels and spot, amongst other things, damaging cultural issues and disaffected teams. One scientific trial of such technology showed that, by spotting patterns in employee communications and addressing them, a large consumer facing company was able to improve net promoter score by over 17 points in just 18 months.

Toukalas and his colleagues are delivering technology that can map internal communications and present a picture of organisational health, identify culture carriers and help build trust among teams. This is all based on a close understanding of how the key stakeholders, employees, are performing.

While these kind of tools do run into hesitancy from companies and employees on questions of privacy, Toukalas says that, once reassured on security, many employees embrace the opportunity to understand their behaviour better and ask for the opportunity to see their individual data (this is available only to them) so that they can work on improvement. Furthermore, the technology has been used in improving risk and compliance behaviour and in identifying blockers and change agents in M&A situations where teams and cultures are being brought together.

The use of advanced data analytics with external stakeholders is an increasingly important part of informing communications strategy. Darren Fleetwood, Senior Research Manager at Madano and one of the architects of our own data analytics tools, discussed how advanced stakeholder mapping has presented new opportunities to identify potentially hugely influential stakeholders who connect important groups, but essentially don’t have the fame or notoriety of others. What we can see with the human eye can involve blindspots that the analytics can bring to the fore.

For many people with communications experience that stretches beyond a decade, they will remember that most strategic decisions were previously taken with a mixture of qualitative insight, experience and gut instinct. With the range of tools now at our disposal as communications, PR and public affairs professionals, we have a fantastic opportunity to combine the best of both worlds and improve campaign outcomes.

While the world is getting more complex, the technologies and techniques to navigate it are keeping pace. It is an exciting time.

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