Hello? Hi. Is this thing even on?

Sometimes you can fire-up the perfect, clear, succinct message – ZOOM and fire it right into the heart of your most loyal audience. And. Nothing.

an unbroken line drawing of an ear

Sometimes you can tweet about a sausage, from your fledgling estate agency, at 3am, and the world wants your babies. It’s the lead news item in 57 countries. You can’t move for feedback, adulation and kerching kerching as everyone buys your hot property.

Ever feel that?

The world is noisy and you need to cut through that noise.

Four golden rules:

  1. Talk more about the problems you’re solving, than the fact you need to sell something
  2. Be interesting (and interested)
  3. Make sense
  4. You’re talking to a human who can literally choose to do anything else. Respect that.


Dr Julia Grace Patterson, Bobby Seagull and Gina Miller offer some insight on using the media, building influence and how to cut through with your message when the odds are against you.

Former psychiatrist, now Founder/CEO of EveryDoctor, Dr Julia Grace Patterson talks through how co-ordinated action can get the media to pay attention when individuals are nervous about getting their message across…

Around 2015, the junior doctor contract dispute happened. And lots of doctors, including myself, started coming together (mostly on Facebook) in groups, to speak about how they felt about what was being said in the media and political rhetoric around NHS staff and patients and patient safety.

And it formed a campaign ground.

There was one Facebook group in particular, which I didn’t start, called The Junior Doctor Contract Forum. And some fantastic projects came out of that, one of which was led by myself, and Georgina (who’s the other director of EveryDoctor): a protest choir.

Because there were lots of rallies and marches and events happening, we thought that if we had an anthem – to deal with the NHS and patient safety – it would help lift people’s spirits and draw a bit of media attention to important situations.

So we brought a big group of doctors together. And it was a huge learning experience in terms of how the media can be (without sounding too manipulative) utilised in order to bring bring light upon important issues, as well as how you can communicate a point of view and bring facts to the public.

And so that was the jumping off point, I suppose.

The rhetoric back then was very much ‘SAVE THE NHS’. It has now become, I think, a lot more sophisticated. And there are lots of different sort of niches in different areas of the country.

But what I recognised was lacking was that doctors didn’t have a specific campaign group, bringing together their views and trying to communicate to the public the threat on patient safety within the NHS (and the threat to staff safety as well, because the working conditions have deteriorated significantly). And so I spent quite a lot of time studying what was going on in this sector, what the trade unions were doing, what the formation of a trade union might look like and how they functioned – where they were lacking and what could be done differently.

There was scope for a new organisation which could be smaller and nimble, bringing the views of doctors that had been collected online directly to the media – particularly the gathering of testimonials from doctors. This is something that clearly isn’t within the scope of trade unions and yet can be very, very powerful in terms of advocating for people about experiences and workplaces.

It’s very difficult to speak up about problems at work in the NHS. It’s difficult for whistleblowers, when there are big problems; and it’s difficult for staff to complain. They don’t want to be seen to be critical of the service, because they believe very strongly in it. And they also are very aware that the government has underfunded the service significantly, with a view in the longer-term to privatise and sell off the NHS. And so they don’t want to contribute to a negative rhetoric about the NHS (which might speed that up).

On an individual level, it makes it very difficult stuff. So we’ve managed to construct ways of bringing people’s views into the public domain. And that was the initial idea behind EveryDoctor.

Bobby Seagull - Building influence around your passion

Bobby Seagull – quiz show king, maths teacher, numbers fan – is using his new fame to evangelise about numeracy . We asked him about his approach to being heard.

It’s a tricky one.

Obviously in the long-term I’d love to play a part in helping to transform attainment and attitudes towards maths.

Like a government czar in maths, that’s maybe a dream role.

It can be quite challenging. So I always think about what I’d like on my epitaph, on my gravestone, and how do I work towards that?

My gravestone: “Mr. Seagull made maths a little bit less icky”

I’d love to play a role in changing attitudes, because I genuinely believe that it’s not necessarily competence.

Numerically there is something known as dyscalculia. It’s a bit like the maths equivalent of dyslexia. And I think, 2-5% of the population have it. You can extrapolate those with the condition, which means that for them you need alternative methods and strategies which mainstream class teachers might not be able to try in the classroom.

And that’s fine, but that still means over 90% of the country should be confident in maths. But if you ask people on the high street who feels confident in their maths, you’re not gonna get 90%.

There’s a disconnect between what I think is human ability and actually having competence in maths and numeracy.

During my matches in University Challenge, A few people commented, “Oh, Bobby should be the new Johnny Ball”. I was genuinely asking “who’s Johnny Ball?” and looking him up. I could see he had this enthusiasm for maths. And back in the 1970s and 80s, his main medium was you trying to enthuse people through television shows.

And now in the 2020s, we’re in a world where we can actually measure things a lot more. There’s social media metrics, Instagram and TikTok.

My initial touch point is a is obviously I teach my own students. I’m a part time teacher. I still teach real students and have to tell them off etc.

There are public figures that were teachers: Romesh Ranganathan used to be a teacher, the BBC presenter Greg Davis (really huge guy) used to be a teacher. And I love the fact that I can still be a real teacher part of the week. But I have a public platform, through my social media, trying to engage people rather than part of an organisation.

Most of my public impact for numeracy is through a charity called National Numeracy; I think they were set up I think about a decade back. And the objective is quite simple: to transform numeracy throughout the nation. But not just schoolchildren, because most people in the country are adults who have left school, and have had bad experiences with maths. So with the charity, we try to do work with organisations, public sector bodies, private sector employers, to help improve the numeracy skills of workers.

They use high profile ambassadors like Martin Lewis, the money saving expert, and Rachel Riley from Countdown. And through my celebrity interactions, I’ve become friends with people from Strictly and Bakeoff and I’ve recruited them to become National Numeracy ambassadors, so I’m trying to use my new connections.

So through these connections, people will know Bobby, he’s a teacher, he loves maths. I’m going to try to get into things like tick tock and start to produce mass content there. And then you can tell the number of views and interactions, but for now, I’m trying to build up an organic supporter base – people that will be willing to back me in maths-related activities.

Gina Miller - when failure works (and lifting the power of others)

Gina Miller – businesswoman, campaigner, politician – took on the government in the high court and won. Twice. We asked her where her confidence comes from.

I failed a lot to get here.

And I try and talk to women about the failures and how you cope with failure.

Because I think, again, going back to schools, we teach children about success, but we don’t teach them what to do when they fail – and how to pick themselves up and what you can learn from failure.

I talked to them about that. And then I talked about activism and finding your own voice, and that you’re probably gonna get it wrong when you begin. I did.

But it’s something you learn; you actually can get better at it. So that’s a really empowering thing to know, that by raising up your voice, you can get it wrong but then you get it right.

It’s not something you suddenly get right, because too often the examples held up, are of women who are already successful. I want to get rid of is this is this idea that women have to work two or three times harder than men to be successful; to hear our voice heard.

Actually, my aim is for equality. We shouldn’t have to work any harder, we could just get there on our on our own strengths.

But I think it’s really important for those women not to try, say, and be me. Find out who you are, and be you. That’s really, really important. Especially as I’m very mindful that I’m as a woman of colour and there aren’t that many role models out there.

I’m told this often in in the city, or in the legal profession: we don’t have parity here yet. So there can be other problems that come that are beset a woman of colour, because you can get other women who may be in the boardroom who think “…well, there’s only a few spaces, so I’m gonna lock you out”. I’d say there are more burdens that we carry with us on a daily basis. And it’s figuring out how to unburden ourselves.

But it’s also my final thing I’d say to women is – don’t shout. When we’re angry,we can become quite shrill. Try and find a way of of not making others feel that they’re losing out if you win. You lift everybody up together because no-one feels that they’re going to lose if you win, or that if you’re taking more of the limelight, then you’ll encounter more barriers.

If you say to somebody, “this is about both of us; this is about all of us being lifted up”, then the reception you get is quite different.

The always possible team provide award-winning workshops and strategy sessions for ambitious teams. We help businesses, charities and public services to make decisions about who they are, who they want to speak to, build influence and cut through the noise.

In each of these Insights newsletters on LinkedIn, we’ll draw on expertise from our team as well as very special guests from The Possibility Club podcast – who have practical suggestions and ideas on what could unstick a challenge in your work.

If you’re inspired by anything you read, and want to know how you could unlock potential in your business or charity, book an informal call in our online calendar.

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