Usually around this time of year we’re accustomed to preparing for that last intensive sprint of signing off work and making sure clients have what they need before our Christmas break – driven by the thought of cracking that first bottle of the ever-infamous office party. However, it goes without saying that things are going to be more than a little different for everyone this year for obvious reasons I think we’re all tired of regurgitating. And this is going to impact some a lot more than others.

For most of you reading this blog, this is usually a time to blow off steam and celebrate with friends, family and the close ones. But for many others this feeling is lost amongst the immense amount of financial pressure this time of year brings with it. With an average of £3.5billion of debt being racked up across the UK it can be a struggle, and extortionate APR rates and deceptive payment plans mean that this all comes with higher premium for having a lower income.

‘It’s the thought that counts’, is a saying starts to emerge around this time of year, but not when this thought is attached to a price tag. Gift giving is a form of storytelling, a way to pass on knowledge and show appreciation for our recipients. Books are a testament to that, as timeless medium that provide value long after the gift is given. This is something that we might see as a relatively inexpensive option when it comes to selecting presents, but for others it can be the difference between a sitting around the table for a Christmas dinner or not.

In recent years, we’ve donated food parcels, toys & presents for children and young people as well as helping out with a range of fundraising and hands-on volunteering activities. This year, we’ve launched our festive-giving campaign ‘All you read is love’… where we’ll be buying books in our client and partner’s name, with a personal message of why the book was chosen and gifting them to children and young people based here in the northwest.

We’ll be purchasing the books from independent booksellers, as a thank you for our client’s ongoing support for Agent over the year.  To get the books out there, we’ve identified a number of regional children’s charities and community youth groups who will help us getting our chosen stories out to those young people who’ll need them most.

We’d love for you to join us by purchasing from one of our independent bookstores across the North West or wherever you’re situated. You can send it to us, at the address below with a note of why you chose the book or simply gift the book yourself to supports the small businesses in a time of need and gift a book to someone who needs it most. It’s time we got #BookedUpThisChristmas with #AgentReads.

Agent Marketing Limited
43 Jordan Street,
Liverpool,
L1 0B

Transformational trauma vs the mind, brain and body

Prioritising sound mental health is a lifestyle that I value daily. As an ever-learning student of mindfulness (essentially the practice of building awareness of your own thoughts and emotions, addressing them rather than immediately reacting to them), I am always keen to help both myself and others.

With the present mental health crisis and the toxic culture to ignore how we feel, earlier this year I read a brilliant book by the Dutch psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, titled ‘The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain, and Body in the Transformation of Trauma’. I learned so much useful knowledge from this read, that I decided to use what I learned about trauma, its effects, and therapies for toxic stress, along with my practical knowledge to teach my team. Even if one person took something away from my presentation, I see it as a success!

What actually is trauma? 

While it is common to think trauma only relates to war, abuse or rape, trauma can in fact come from anything that is out of your control. It is a very normal response to abnormal events. Whether we realise it or not, we have all experienced some form of trauma, especially recently with the overwhelming abnormality of a global pandemic and lockdown.

Your three brains

Your brain is brilliantly complex and intelligent. It consists of 3 parts:

  1. The reptilian brain, which maintains basic bodily functions and acts instinctively
  2. The mammal brain/limbic system, also acts instinctively but deals with pain, pleasure, and emotions. It is the feeling part of the brain
  3. The neocortex, which is where logic, planning, order, and imagination take place

While the neocortex is conscious, the reptilian and mammal parts of the brain are primitive. When we react to traumatic events, our brain can either respond emotionally with the mammal brain or rationally with the neocortex.

The mammal brain hosts 2 important smaller parts of the brain, called the amygdala and the hippocampus.

– The amygdala has only one job, to sound the alarm when in danger. In a matter of survival, this primitive part of the brain takes control and responds with 3 possible paths for survival: fight, flight, or freeze.

– Regularly, the hippocampus has the role of storing memories, but in moments of danger, it stops doing its job, making it difficult to gather evidence from trauma victims. Instead, the hippocampus switches its role to pump cortisol. This stress hormone acts as a painkiller, allowing the victim to focus on survival – an intelligent evolutionary safety mechanism.

The damaged mind

Through short-term trauma, damage can take place in the form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). If the process happens repeatedly, such as in domestic abuse victims, complex PTSD can form. When this occurs, the amygdala’s signal gets jammed from constant stimulation. For victims, memories are stuck in the mammal brain, so a subtle trigger can set off the alarm such as smell, sound, or sensation. Imagine casually walking down the street, when a specific smell sets off your amygdala’s alarm, forcing you into fighting for survival. This can create a hostile lifestyle that can cause difficulty in feeling present and lacking trust in a world that is not likely to ever seem safe again.

Knowingly, we feel benefits from physical activity like working out, due to the release of feel-good chemicals serotonin and dopamine. Physical sensations can also help regulate feelings, similar to the first moment someone feeds us when we’re hungry or covers us when we’re cold. If no one has ever rushed to help for a victim, they may naturally discover alternative ways of self-care – experimenting with instant relief through drugs, cutting, or binge eating. These also provide feel-good chemicals but are only a short-term solution.

Agency and your body

The feeling of being in charge of your own life, or Agency, starts with awareness of our sensory body. The more awareness, the more potential to take charge of our lives.

This can follow 2 simple steps:

  1. Knowing what we feel
  2. Know why we feel this way

This process of internal observation is the key to understanding ourselves better. If we know our triggers and fixes, we can treat situations from a different perspective. This practice is also known as mindfulness, or as I like to call, a superpower!

By avoiding becoming familiar with and befriending the sensations in their bodies, victims cannot start this path to recovery. Victims with constant fear live within tense and defensive bodies, constantly on edge. Similarly, chronic anger can cause muscle tension and spasms.

Stretch and breathe

How can we resolve this? Prescription drugs supposedly help, but they run the risk of blunting sensations. They don’t give you the tools to deal with distressing physical reactions.

What can help is yoga – the simple act of learning to inhabit your body through asanas (postures) and pranayama’s (stretches). Yoga is all about looking inward and listening to your body. By focusing your attention on the breath and the sensations felt in every posture or stretch, we can begin to listen and notice the connections between your emotions and your body. We can experiment with certain positions designed for tension release of specific muscles. Yoga can allow you to express feelings easier because you can recognise them easier.

Follow my fingers

From the many different types of therapy for trauma, one that I’ve found the most interesting in my research is EMDR (eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing). This fairly new type of therapy opens up a traumatic experience, forcing the victim to address it.

A therapist will ask the victim to activate the traumatic memory from their long-term memory, this will now move to their short-term memory. Focusing on the event, the therapist will move their fingers in rapid back and forth motions, asking the victim to follow them. By keeping the memory in their mind and tracking the therapist’s fingers at the same time, the brain processes so much information all at once, that the image becomes blurred and loses its emotional charge. Furthermore, when an image lessens, it becomes easier to think differently about the experience.

Therapy isn’t just for the victims. Everyone should seek some form of it, whether you’re mentally healthy or struggling, anyone can benefit from expressing themselves. The trick to keeping a good mind is to treat it well even when you might think it doesn’t need it. Tending to it during the highs of life, help make the lows easier to manage.

What about me?

Through the consistent practice of yoga, meditation, and journaling, I’ve found an increase in patience and empathy for others. I am more aware of my breathing and how I feel in my body, therefore more friendly with my emotions and moods. I am almost always calmer, and I can understand people better by looking at events from their perspective.

Here at Agent Academy and Agent, we are all about expanding our knowledge on important subjects, especially ones that should be spoken more about.

Our team recently took part in Neurodiversity training hosted by Tony Lloyd, CEO of ADHD Foundation.

We learnt so much about Neurodiversity and we even learnt more about each other and the way that all of our minds work different, and that’s okay!

 

But what does it mean to be ‘Neurodiverse’?

Neurodiverse minds are part of the natural diversity of human cognitive capacity. It is so important to remember that these are not ‘errors of genetics’ or ‘disorders.’ Neurodiversity is about functioning, not IQ and Neurodiverse people have very specific strengths in particular areas.

Neurodiversity is the umbrella term for;

  • Dyslexia
  • ADHD
  • Dyspraxia
  • Dyscalculia
  • Dysgraphia
  • Tourette’s
  • Speech, Language and Communication Impairment

 

Did you know 1 in 5 human beings are Neurodiverse and 35% of celebrities are dyslexic or have ADHD?! To name a few;

Bill Gates – Dyscalculia

Will Smith – ADHD

Ed Sheeran – Speech Language Difficulties and Stutter

Albert Einstein – Autism & Dyslexia

3 Key Takeaways:

  • People who are neurodiverse will have different strengths and will face different challenges on a daily basis.
  • Neurodiversity is a benefit, especially in a team
  • Neurodiversity is not a disability

 

Something that I learned about myself:

I have always shied away from the fact that I struggle with numbers and punctuation but it was great to experience a training session that put everything into perspective and that actually, maybe numbers aren’t my strong point, but I have other strengths that I can use, especially in my everyday job. I thoroughly enjoyed the training session and would encourage you all to try it out!

Data: Facts and statistics collated and prepped for analysis. A simple concept that’s become one of the most lucrative assets at our disposal. By leveraging this information through artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), it presents us within a plethora of possibility and opportunity for what we can achieve with this – in the name of empowerment or manipulation however, this is up for debate.

At the current rate of technological development, there’s an endless game of cat and mouse being played between legislation in the name of public interest and the tech giants that harvest our information for profit and power.

It’s companies like Google which have entered our lives as big, new, shiny altruistic organisations, providing high quality services at little to no cost and as a result have ingrained themselves into our day to day lives. However, there’s an underlying cost to all of this, if there wasn’t, the model simply wouldn’t be viable as a business. As the saying goes; if you’re not paying for the product then you are the product.

Google is a pioneer of the big data model, having figured out the most efficient way to monetise the information we’re so happy to throw at them. Every move that we make on our phones, search bars, and social media is tracked and stored in computer systems and servers stored in discrete high security locations. As alarming as this sounds, no one is actually monitoring any of this information, so I don’t think you need to be worried about what your searching in your incognito tab when no one’s looking. Although, the reality of this is much more sinister.

The trouble with models such as Google and Facebook, is that the ML and AI used to manipulate all of this information is only designed based on three key objectives: keeping us clicking, keeping us sharing and keeping us buying. None of which looks out for our wellbeing, the user or society as a whole.

This is a system that’s constantly evolving to be more sneaky, manipulative and deceptive, and is constantly tweaking the means of these three factors (through the content we’re being shown) to get better and better at achieving these objectives, regardless of the impact it may be having on us.

Now when you think about a computer geek sitting behind a screen watching what you do and analysing your behaviour, having him watch us doesn’t seem as bad. At least there’s a shred of humanity that plays into their process in this circumstance. In the words of the great Mark Zuckerberg himself: ‘What’s good for the world isn’t necessarily what’s good for Facebook’.

So, what’s the actual product of all of this content manipulation? Well, it shapes how we perceive reality. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google have, for a large portion of us – Gen Z especially – become the main portal into current affairs and a source of news. So, if the information we’re consuming is all fed to us based on what we want to see, or at least what we want to see from the perspective of an inhuman algorithm, our vision of the world outside of our immediate vicinity is being skewed and distorted.

We’ve already begun to see the affects off all of this in the increasing divide between the left and right when it comes to politics. Each side has their own arguments which come from their own sources, all curated by personalised algorithms. This means that each side live in their own bubbles of reality, where their information isn’t necessarily wrong, but biased and blind to content that could provide a counter argument to help better shape an opinion.

With the societal argument aside, there’s a lot to be said about how this affects us on an individual level. The content that’s always more attention grabbing is that of a controversial nature, that provides shock value – things that are of a negative nature. This frames the world in a much more negative light which can ultimately have an impact on our mental health. This is in addition to all of the aspirational representations of people’s lives that we see and continue to distort our view of the world.

Despite all this, it isn’t all doom and gloom – there’s so much potential for good through the use of data, social media, ML and AI. There are also ways we can protect ourselves from the manipulation and deception that has come from it. One of these ways is through a concept called a MID (Mediator of Individual Data). Formulated by tech guru Jaron Lanier, this concept works much like a trade union. You join one which suits your needs and they look after who uses your data and how it’s being used. Companies like Facebook will then have to come to the MIDs to buy the data they want, and the profits from this are then fed back to you in a number of ways: dividends, single pay outs or distributes. Sounds good, right?

If this concept doesn’t work, we should at least have the ability to see where and how our data is being used. Not only does this make the use of data more open, but it makes data more accessible for other, smaller organisations, potentially with a more socially positive agenda.

My point is that our data has a great deal of value and is something that should belong to us. If full control isn’t achievable, then full visibility and transparency should be, so that when we engage with the services that our lives now depend on, we can do so in full knowledge of the risks and rewards that come with it.

North West-based, award-winning learning organisation, Agent Academy CIC, has been awarded £150,000 by innovation foundation, Nesta and the Department for Education, to expand its existing offer nationally, supporting those whose jobs are at risk across the UK through an innovative online platform.

Research by Nesta suggests that more than six million people in the UK are currently employed in occupations that are likely to radically change or entirely disappear by 2030 due to automation, population aging, urbanisation and the rise of the green economy. It has also been found that the coronavirus crisis has intensified the importance of this problem. Recent warnings suggest that a prolonged lockdown could result in 6.5 million people losing their jobs. Of these workers, nearly 80% do not have a university degree.

Agent Academy delivers industry-designed, action learning programmes for young people, aged between 18 and 25, who find themselves, post-further/higher education, without the skills to begin their careers in the digital, creative or tech industry.  Alongside industry training, participants work on a real-life client brief, offering a practical approach to learning to ensure they are ready to hit the ground running and successfully kick-start their future careers.

This funding will allow Agent Academy to develop a dynamic online training platform, taking elements of its existing programme and translating them digitally with a range of new features, to support people over the age of 25 throughout England. Agent Academy will design and develop unique personalised learning content delivered through a digital platform, using “real world” scenarios to increase the employability of learners through automatically generated work portfolios that can be attached to the user’s CV. The launch of the new platform will be Autumn 2020.

 

Zoe Wallace, director of Agent Academy, said:

“The accelerating development of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and robotics, is expected to have a more dramatic impact on people’s jobs in almost every sector. We want to transform retraining and upskilling to prepare adults for the changing world of work.

Over the past six years Agent Academy’s various programmes have served hundreds of learners to gain the skills and experience to move into the digital sector, generating over £2.7 million in annual salaries; it is individually empowering and transformational for the industry. Now, we are creating a platform to achieve these outcomes at scale.

We want this to be the platform of choice nationally, for learners to get the skills and support needed to make the switch from an at-risk career into a digital and creative career.”

The funding has been awarded as part of the Department for Education and Nesta’s CareerTech Challenge, supporting the National Retraining Scheme, in which grants were offered to those who could devise innovative solutions to support people who will be hit the hardest by an insecure job market over the coming years.

Through the platform, users will have the opportunity to work on real client challenges set by high profile brands, which they will be able to add to their portfolio, helping improve their chances of employment.”

 

Ksenia Zheltoukhova, Nesta’s Executive Director of People and Performance said:

“In these unprecedented times we want to help people understand which skills will be in demand in the future, and learn new skills to secure employment. We are excited to work with Agent Academy who already have demonstrable track record in delivering quality courses for the marketing profession, and support them to provide their innovative programmes to a new audience.”

User engagement, consultation and design has begun, with the new digital platform set to launch this summer. To register for early access, visit learnwithswitch.co.uk.

Learning how to learn with Rebecca

Let’s face it, staying focused and creative in the current climate is challenging.

As part of our Agent and Agent Academy BABs (Briefings at Breakfast) knowledge sharing sessions, I decided to share a handful of techniques that help me to stay focused, productive and creative – even in the most challenging of situations!

First up is The Pomodoro Technique.

I first came across this technique in 2014. I was working full time as well as studying, so finding time to learn something new was my biggest challenge!

What is it?

The pomodoro technique is an approach to time management.

For all you polyglots out there, you will notice that Pomodoro means tomato in Italian. Francesco Cirilllo created the technique in 1980 when he was studying programming at university. He used his tomato (pomodoro) kitchen timer to help him keep focused on his studies. He would set it for 20 mins and when it rang, he would get up and do something different for 5 minutes to switch his focus.

He repeated this throughout the day and found that the amount he could learn in one day shot right up!

In fact, it was so effective that he did further research into how long an average person can concentrate. It turns out that it’s around 20-25 minutes. He developed this technique into a complete system, which has proven to be a massive hit with productivity-seekers across the globe.

There is even an app now available to download to keep track of your Pomodoros!

You can find out more about it, here:  https://bit.ly/2VLy3yG

Secondly, we have the Cornell Method of Notetaking.

Unfortunately, I only came across this after having graduated from university. However, I still find it really useful today when I am trying to learn something new.

What is it?

It is a low-tech system for making notes, which also doubles up a study system.

Let me ask you this; how often do you take notes in class or a lecture and then actually re-read your notes afterwards? If you are anything like me, the answer is almost certainly never.

This technique helps you to focus on the key concepts of new information so that you can structure your thinking and make useful learning links in your brain.

On the left you write the key points; in the middle you write more detail and; at the end you write a brief summary of the learning on that page.

Making notes in this way can help you keep track of the key points you need to remember, and, what’s more, you have ready-made revision cards for exam-time practice.

You can find out more about it, here: https://bit.ly/3cK0JPR

Thirdly, I introduced the team to the delights of SCRUM.

I learnt about SCRUM in 2013 when I was working for an agile consultancy company which specialised in this type of training. They set about upskilling tech teams across the UK on how they could work better together, create value and satisfy user-demand.

What is it?

SCRUM is simply one approach to Agile Project Management.

Here is how it works. You have…

  • A Cross-Functional Team: No silo-ing here. A person or persons from each discipline needed to develop a product are brought together into one team who work collaboratively.
  • A Product Owner: The person responsible for prioritising work and keeping the client happy. This is SCRUM’s version of a traditional project manager.
  • A Scrum Master: The person responsible for ensuring the team is working well together and removing any barriers they might have.

The teams work together in a ‘sprint’ on very specific set of tasks. They focus completely on their tasks for the duration of a sprint (usually around two weeks). At the end of their sprint, they have a piece of a product which could be used or delivered to a client.

Why is it useful?

SCRUM doesn’t only focus on what is being done, but also on how it is being done.

In the creative and digital sector, we are constantly working on developing iterations of our work in order to improve it and make our clients happy.

Taking elements of agile project management can help us to see where we are working well as a cross-functional team, to determine how best to deliver value and to support us in remaining innovative.

This is, of course, a simplified version of SCRUM. If you would like to find out more, a good place to start is here: https://bit.ly/3arfQfo

I hope you enjoyed reading all about my BABs! If you have any techniques, tips or tricks you’d like to share, feel free to get in touch at rebecca@agentacademy.org.uk.

Yes, that’s us on the big screen – all grown up!

Can you believe we recently turned 14? The time has flown by, but what an incredible journey it’s been for us over the years. From starting out in a small office with a tiny team, to now having a gang of 24 talented individuals in our much-loved Baltic Triangle HQ.

It’s great to see how far we have come as an Agency, now working with clients not only in the North West but across the UK and internationally. The past 18 months have been brilliant for Agent. We’ve worked on some incredibly exciting projects and expanded into new sectors, taking us to brand new places and spaces.

Our team has created some truly brilliant pieces of work, which you can see a sneak peak of in our latest showreel!

We’re also proud to have maintained our culture throughout the years, especially in recent times since the team have been working from home. It’s important that we are constantly connected to each other to keep doing what we do best and keep up a health balance of work and play!

Agent Academy is also going from strength to strength, having recently completed its first ever virtual graduation, celebrating its sixth birthday and launching the first ever digital programme, Academy 12, to adapt to the current situation and ensure our young people can still benefit from the incredible opportunities the Academy provides.

We have also just launched ‘Switch’, a brand new EdTech platform which is a collaboration between Agent Academy and Agent. This comes after Agent Academy was recently awarded funding by innovation foundation, Nesta and the Department for Education, to expand its existing offer nationally, taking everything we’ve learnt in the six years since the Academy’s inception, to support people whose jobs are at risk across the UK. It’s a really exciting project and has landed at the perfect time, given that so many people are having to move everything they do online, whether it’s work, training or education.

As a lot of you may know, we love birthdays at Agent. This usually includes presents, a medley of Agent’s singing to Stevie Wonder ‘Happy Birthday’ and of course, cake, and lots of it!

We’re very good at celebrating our Agent’s birthdays, but how do we celebrate our own? Well, this year we thought we would really go for it. Agent is a team that you can rely on and. Since we launched in 2006, we’ve always stood by our colleagues, friends and clients.

So, we got in touch with our friends at Ocean Outdoor UK and Open Media who showcase our birthday celebrations on their screens. Both of these organisations have supported us a lot over the years and we’re incredibly grateful to them. To see our faces on the Lime Street screen was a very proud moment!

We’ve grown a lot as an Agency and had a lot of successes over the past 14 years, but we couldn’t have done any of it without our incredible team. In celebration of our team spirit, we asked all 24 Agents to share what #TeamAgent means to them. We’ve listed all of the #TeamAgent messages below, for your viewing pleasure!

The topic that I chose to kickstart Agent’s new Briefings at Breakfast (BABs) initiative was an introduction into behavioural economics – looking back on its inception, rise in prominence and how it’s being used within marketing and messaging all around us, both commercially and politically to influence decision-making.

The date of my talk was 12th March, and the question of where you can see behaviour economics in practice, couldn’t be more prevalent today. The question of when this theory should be used, is still very much an ongoing debate.

The reason I find this topic fascinating is partly due to my role at Agent. As a strategy consultant, part of my role is to carry out research on our clients’ markets, audiences and customers, which we then develop into a marketing strategy that is effective in communicating the right message, using the right channels to the right audience. We then test what we have developed with those target audiences.

When developing messaging it is fundamental that whatever we develop is written specifically with the audience in mind. We always consider the following; how will they consume the information? Where is the most effective context for them to read and act upon it? How easy is the call to action and how can we remove as many barriers to that being successful acted upon?

One of the consequences for me is that I can no longer see any marketing, advertising, speech, or slogan and not deconstruct it. I often consider the inevitable complexity or theory as to why they settled on that as the key message, I am a nightmare to watch adverts with! Creative director and author Dave Trott described strategy as follows: ‘it is not about adding more and more stuff. Strategy is about taking stuff away. Taking away everything, until there’s only one thing left. One single powerful thought.’

The most notable theory over the last few decades when it comes to influencing decision-making is behavioural economics, which is defined as a method of economic analysis that applies psychological insights into human behaviour to explain decision-making. How this is relevant to marketing is by taking the theories and ideas of how people are influenced by both conscious and unconscious biases and applying this when developing the messaging, choice architecture, placement and call to actions of a campaign.

To give you a quick whistle stop background; the theory really accelerated in the 1960’s through the work of two notable cognitive psychologists, Daniel Kahneman & Amos Tversky. The pair worked together on extensively on papers for years, devising and comparing their cognitive models on decision-making under risk and uncertainty to economic models of rational behaviour. Kahneman, went onto win the Noble Prize for economics in 2002, despite being a psychologist, for his work on the subject.

Fast-forward to 2008 and the critically acclaimed book, NUDGE is released. Written by Professors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein, their theory as described by them states that; “A nudge, as we will use the term, is any aspect of the choice architecture that alters people’s behaviour in a predictable way without forbidding any options or significantly changing their economic incentives. To count as a mere nudge, the intervention must be easy and cheap to avoid. Nudges are not mandates. Putting fruit at eye level counts as a nudge. Banning junk food does not.” The theory focuses on little changes you can make to the choice architecture of something that can have an effect on an individual’s decision making.

This book has had a huge influence on policy makers across the world, notably Barack Obama and David Cameron, who each set up teams within their Government to look at ways behavioural economics could help to inform policy making. In the UK, this became the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), also referred to as ‘The Nudge Unit.’ Described at the world’s first governmental institution dedicated to the application of behavioural science, the BIT has since grown out of the Government and sits independently, working with businesses and governments around the world.

One of the working templates created by BIT is to help policymakers develop policies is the EAST framework. This a useful tool developed to help simply apply behavioural insights. The core principles of the framework for the policy you want to introduce should be make it Easy, make it Attractive, make it Social and make it Timely for the audience you want to influence. This is a really useful tool to help develop messaging, writing key messages that can be easily recalled and understood is the goal for any advertising.

If you analyse some of the most effective political campaigns over the last few years and think about how simplified slogans and messaging has been highly extremely successful; notably in the campaign for the UK to leave the EU and the recent general election. There were of course other factors that played into these campaigns, but one constant is that these slogans have all had a similarly easy, attractive, social and timely element to them. Get Brexit Done, Take Back Control, repeated over and over again and again. The rule of three is an often-used trope of speechwriters and something that the Prime Minister particularly favours. Make it easy, make it attractive, make it social, make it timely.

The use of the rule of three has never been more prevalent in political discourse than during the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Wash your hands – Halt the spread – Turn the tide – Flatten the peak – Protect the NHS – Stay at home” and so on, repeated by everyone who has taken the lectern at Number 10 during the daily briefings. A little bit like key message bingo. This obviously is not a new thing in politics, political slogans go back as far back as the 18th century. But it is interesting to see just how much it is being used as a technique during the crisis.

It has been suggested that the BIT has been involved with the Government’s response to the crisis. Running mathematical models to understand how the disease may spread, something that relies on predicting behaviours and helping with the messaging (singing ‘Happy Birthday’). It is unclear if the behavioural scientists have been involved directly in shaping the response and steps taken by the Government.

It is important to remember that nudging behaviour is a theory based on experiments and predictions. This therefore could be problematic to use as a response to such a large-scale crisis. As put by Richard Thaler: “a nudge is not a mandate”, and given that UK was the last of the major European countries to mandate any restrictions and the only country to favour a slower, softer, nudging behavioural approach “based on the science”.

Can the application of behavioural economics be useful in developing messaging, mapping out the choice architecture and help influence decision-making of people? Absolutely.

Should it be given equal billing to science in times of a pandemic to predict mass behaviour? This is unclear.

We’re extremely proud to announce that we are supporting Merseyside PPE Hub’s ‘Lap for Lives’ event, taking place on 21st May 2020, helping to raise funds to protect our key workers.
Merseyside PPE Hub is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free personal protective equipment (PPE) to anyone who does not feel safe in their day to day job or walk of life.

The Hub was set up due to the lack of response to providing much-needed PPE for frontline health and social care workers as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. This has encouraged different organisations and individuals who share the same goals and values to come together to provide PPE to those who need it most.

Their latest fundraiser event, ‘Lap for Lives’ will feature local celebrities, ex-football stars, volunteers and high-profile journalists who will be embarking on a 66-mile relay race from distance of the hub to the Etihad stadium and back again, all within 12 hours.

The aim of the race is to raise more money to manufacture PPE and scrubs, which will help better protect our NHS heroes, other key workers and the general public.

Agent’s CEO, Paul Corcoran, said:

“We’re incredibly passionate about supporting and getting involved with organisations that are creating positive change, so are delighted to be supporting this well-deserving cause. It’s so important that we are all doing our bit to support those who need it most during these difficult times and this is our way of saying thank you to those who really are going above and beyond to save lives.”

We’d like to thank all of the key workers and NHS heroes for everything they have been doing so far so keep us safe and keep us going. You’re all brilliant.

We would also like to thank Merseyside Hub PPE for coming together and doing something truly special which will benefit thousands of people across Merseyside.

If you would like to get involved and help support this brilliant cause, you can find out more information, here: http://www.merseysideppehub.co.uk