UKOM Technical Board member Kate Clarke works with News UK’s commercial, editorial and senior management teams – all seeking insight into the impact of Covid on behaviour and what ‘new normal’ will look like

What's bringing you joy/are you liking in lockdown?
The weather (when sunny) and spending time with my daughters, who have enjoyed participating in the odd meeting. Work-wise, I've enjoyed the challenge of uncertainty and being able to demonstrate the value of agile insight at a time like this. It has invigorated the team, led to new contacts and new ways of working which I hope we will carry on. 

What are you finding a challenge at home/at work?
Keeping interested in producing three meals a day is a challenge, as is understanding how we can possibly run the dishwasher more times than we eat in a day.

Aside from domesticity, it’s how to create space between home and work. Who’d have thought I’d miss the train, but walking downstairs isn’t enough time to transition between work and home, to shake off the day – and vice versa, especially after holidays. 

I also miss the buzz of the team/office and the energy they bring. However, we’re working around this, from doing The Times quiz on instant message to sharing tips on physical methods to help get into the zone; 30 seconds running on the spot, 30 seconds deep breathing (ideally lying on your belly), 30 seconds shadow boxing (whilst yelling) and 30 seconds intense staring (whilst in a fierce Wonder Woman pose) is way better than the coffee and jammy dodgers I used for the first 10 weeks.

In terms of work, we are all up to date on the big projects and our work but I can’t help feeling we’re missing out on what’s happening around the rest of the business; the chats around the office, in the canteen and ladies lavatories really are invaluable. 

The workload has been intense at times; with stakeholders from commercial to editorial to senior management looking for insight into how people are feeling, the impact on behaviour, not to mention what ‘new normal’ will look like. We have a strong reader panel of tens of thousands which means we can answer multiple briefs and provide reactive and proactive insights to the business. My team are amazing and every one of them delivers.

Final challenge? Grammar. There’s nothing quite like failing to identify a pronoun in year 1 home schooling to shake your confidence before sending a ‘COVID-19 Insights Newsletter’ to the business including a ridiculous number of editors and former editors of national newspapers. It just wasn’t covered in my 1980s Deptford schooling! 

What are you looking forward to?
I’m a hugger so this is killing me. I’m looking forward to greeting people normally again, once it's safe. Seeing family and friends, taking the kids out to dinner, and holidays. At work, seeing my team, buying them all a thank you drink and being able to shout across the desk if I need help or a different point of view.

What impact has the crisis had on your role?
I feel like it’s sharpened it up. My organisation has had to step up a notch, because of the remote working, the extra work and the speed of change in the business at times. Equally I’m always conscious of the softer side of management - the development, the energy and working to find a way through the usual ups and downs of all our lives. This has been so important during the crisis, to be open and supportive so we can all work as best we can. And it’s opened up some new ways of working within the team, and also within research which is exciting. 

Is yours a role where remote working can be done seamlessly? What have you had to compromise on to get the job done?
Theoretically it can be done remotely but I miss the richness of being with people, of meeting them and understanding their nonverbal cues. Specifically we have a couple of relatively new members and the onboarding and development has not been so straightforward. I’ve also compromised on my waistline and with back pain, being sedentary has taken its toll! Remote working was not planned, or done under normal circumstance so I suspect a lot of this could be mitigated with planning, WFH kit and not trying to home school too. 

The countdown has begun to the launch of Ipsos iris, the UKOM endorsed solution for measuring online audiences in the UK, launching January 2021. What aspect of Ipsos iris are you most excited by?
The single source panel, being able to understand how consumers are interacting with digital properties across all their devices is key and moves us from a reliance on modelled data.  Over time, there’s the potential to take in new technologies and platforms and this gives me confidence in the methodology and the future of audience measurement. 

Looking at your workplace, how do you see online audience measurement evolving in the new normal?
Audience measurement has always been an important part of our business and it will remain so. For both commercial and editorial, knowing how we are doing is key to the business, it helps us sell and know who we are reaching across our different media.

Kate Clarke is Head of Customer Insights at News UK

« Back to News & Views