Twenty seven years’ experience in public affairs, public relations, community campaigning, statistical reporting, copy-writing, and communications training
Extensive training experience including journalists, public relations professionals, councillors, government statisticians, journalism students, academic researchers, council officers, and parliamentary researchers
- Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations; Accredited Practitioner; author of the skills guide using statistics in public relations
- BSc Physics with Astrophysics, First Class Honours
- MSc Mathematics, Distinction
- Royal Statistical Society Higher Certificate in Statistics
- Member of the Institute of Physics
- Member of the Royal Statistical Society
I love words and numbers. And not just when doing crosswords and Sudoku puzzles.
They’ve been a key part of my life since graduating with degrees in astrophysics (BSc) and mathematics (MSc) in the late 1980s – a decade of white socks and bleached hair. I have neither these days.
I got side-tracked from research using parallel computing arrays to model space-time by politics. I was elected as a Southampton city councillor in 1991, and twice more in 1994 and 1996.
From 1993, I worked for Diana Maddock, then MP for Christchurch, managing campaigns in her constituency. Much of that work was about working with words, writing copy for leaflets.
After the 1997 General Election, I joined the staff of Paddy Ashdown MP, working on internal communications between him as leader of the Liberal Democrats and the party members at large. When he stood down, I also moved on taking on a campaigns role in key constituencies in the south-west of England.
In 1999, I relocated to Bournemouth and was elected to the borough council. I was elected again in 2003, and spent two years in the council’s cabinet leading on communications and community relations. I lost my seat in 2007. Ten years later, and back where I grew up (the Isle of Wight) I was elected a councillor again.
After the 2001 General Election, I became public relations manager at the University of Portsmouth. My experience in developing campaign messages, drafting news releases and writing copy, was very useful in this role. As a lot of the university’s work is in scientific and technological fields, my physics and maths education was a great help working to communicate complex ideas to non-expert audiences.
In 2005, I joined the Royal Statistical Society where I was the press and public affairs manager till July 2014. Statistics, too often, gets a bad name. It shouldn’t. Statistics do get badly used, but often that’s due to poor understanding of how to use them well.
Early on at the Society, I helped develop a programme of workshops for journalists. I’ve developed similar workshops for public relations professionals, councillors and council officers. I contributed to the publication Making Sense of Statistics, published by Sense About Science. I am a member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and author of their skills guide on using statistics in communications.
All the groups that I’ve worked with have very similar needs.
On the numbers side they need to easily find relevant data and how to understand what it might mean.
On the words side, they need to write about the numbers in succinct ways that can inform and persuade others.
And, because a picture is worth a thousand words, they need to know how to present the numbers effectively in a visual way.