At Commtract, our community of experts are the lifeblood of our business. This month we interviewed Leanne White, a Commtractor, Research & Communications Professional – keep on reading to find out about her.
1. You’ve been in the industry for close to two decades – what have been the major shifts in comms, and what do you think is set to change in the next few years from a research standpoint?
The explosion in the number of channels. Message still matters most, but the potential for communicators these days to target specific groups with tailored, nuanced messages has grown considerably, which creates both complexities and opportunities.
2. If you could advise communications professionals to up skill in one aspect of qualitative or quantitative research to benefit their day to day work life, what would it be and why
Margin of error and confidence interval. Remember in the 2019 federal election how ‘the polls all got it wrong’? Well that is not entirely true. I think the media in particular have not properly discharged their duty to take these important aspects of polling into account when reporting results. Of course this topic is much more complex than just margin of error and confidence interval alone. But encouraging the media, and other comms professionals, to understand that a random representative sample is projectable only to within a certain margin, will go a long way to improving interpretation of results.
3. What interesting skills and experience do you bring to the table as a contractor?
You have to have a pretty broad understanding of the issues of the day, which means being right across current affairs in Australia and the world. When a new client comes along, you have an appreciation of how their issues fit into the broader context. You need to be able to get across their issue quickly, so you can deliver quality insights. And of course you have to be an expert in what you are bringing to the table, which in my case is social and public affairs research. As a news junkie, I tick those boxes.
4. Any wise observations for clients who are considering engaging contractors?
The outcome of a project is only as good as the brief you provide to your contractor. Before you hit send on that request to Commtract, ask yourself: ‘At it’s core, what is the primary objective of this contract?’ In the case of engaging a social researcher, if you have a very clear idea of the question you want answered, your contractor will be able to deliver an outcome that is more useful to you.
5. You initially started out in journalism and media before transitioning to public policy and social research – why and how did you make this change?
As a journalist, on a daily basis I used my skills with writing and language and my thirst for news and current affairs. But I have also always been a real stickler for dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s. This served me well as a subeditor at the Independent newspaper group in Ireland and the Guardian in London. Then when I moved into campaigns with Crosby Textor in 2007, and was exposed to the inside workings of how social research can underpin great comms strategy, I knew I had a contribution to make bringing together skilled use of language with the science of polling.
6. What are you famous for?
In the professional sense I’m trusted by some of Australia’s highest ranking corporate and political leaders for my polling and insights.
In terms of famous famous – I was Time’s Person of the Year in 2006! Your readers might remember that back in 2006, Time Magazine awarded Person of the Year to ’You”, in recognition of individual content creators on the web. My husband Warren and I were featured in the 2006 issue as creators of user-generated internet content with what was, at the time, one of the world’s earliest and more well-known food video blogs, Crash Test Kitchen.
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