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Blog post
June 25, 2019

Bring on the AI overlords: from a content marketer

Artificial intelligence (AI). Just saying the words invokes visions of an apocalyptic future teeming with deadly machines like The Terminator or even software like The Matrix’s Agent Smith. At least that’s the dystopia the scaremongers are peddling. If the latest hype is anything to go by, AI will not only change life on earth as we know it, it will probably take your job too.

As an editor, content marketer and millennial, it appears my head is on the chopping block. Gartner predicts that by 2018, 20 per cent of business content will be authored by machines, and many are speculating that journalists will cease to exist. Add Elon Musk comparing AI to a demon, and even I’m spooked.

But I won’t pack up my desk just yet. Here’s why.

We’re surrounded by AI

Let’s be honest: this is nothing new. Artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation have been around for quite a while, and we’ve all been targeted by Facebook’s AI-applied targeted advertising and subject to Google AdWords’ AI-powered, automated bidding for years.

Your top picks on Netflix? AI technology fuels its recommendation engine. Apple’s personal assistant, Siri? She’s machine learning to better predict, understand and answer your questions. Google? Depends on AI to rank your search results.

But the machines haven’t taken over yet. Despite it trickling into everyday life, AI is still in its infancy. Instead of conjuring images of alien robots, we should really think of the technology as a baby Bicentennial Man in nappies – waiting for us to teach it.

AI is growing up fast

To be useful for content marketing, AI needs a mammoth amount of fresh, structured data.

Its power lies in its ability to analyse large data sets to reveal patterns and trends. Feed it enough high-quality data and it will be able to predict share prices or a human’s lifespan and, in some cases, even write content.

Natural language generation (NLG) is a type of AI software capable of producing coherent, readable text. NLG robo-journalists are already creating basic sports content and corporate earnings reports. But, as smart as it is, NLG isn’t truly independent – it needs very specific data sets and templates before it can write, and it can’t create anything genuinely new.

Still, that doesn’t mean we can’t use the technology. In the realm of content marketing, AI can gather, sort and make sense of oceans of data – something the industry is swimming in.

AI: Spotting trends, making predictions

Ask any marketer and they’ll tell you they’re ‘data driven’.

Sure, we’re data driven. We look at engagement metrics to tell us what’s working, and change things accordingly to make them work better and inform future decisions. But it’s generally retrospective.

A lot of what we do is still based on instinct. We still speak to real people. We still search online to understand what people are asking. We still study search volumes.

What we need is the ability to predict something before it needs to be changed. This is where the opportunity for AI is in content marketing right now.

Exciting stuff for a content marketer working in a media and data intelligence business. We’re already using our own AI to process seven million news items every day, at a rate of 234 stories per second.

With that much data, our software can make strong recommendations about what type of content we should be creating, and for whom. As it evolves (and learns), it should be able to spot trends and patterns early, informing communications strategies and helping businesses to maximise opportunity and minimise risk.

Humans and AI, living together

AI and predictive analytics will help content marketers understand who they should be talking to and what they should be saying, but it’s up to us to create the content.

AI relies on human data and intelligence to function and learn. At least for now, this is where its limitations lie.

Humans are still needed to create original work that connects with its audience at an emotional level. To completely replace a writer or content marketer, AI would need to have an opinion, think abstractly, be curious and show emotion.

So, while your inbox might be full of propaganda alluding to our impending cyberdoom, we’re not there yet.

However, we shouldn’t be naïve, as the way we work is being transformed. To stay in the game, we should spearhead the change rather than hiding in the corner.

I for one welcome working with our new robot overlords, and I urge you all to join me. As the machine said, “Come with me if you want to live.”

Disclaimer: This article was not written by a robot.

Paige Richardson, Isentia Strategy & Content

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The immediate challenge is not killer robots, its job replacement. If individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

The robots are coming. Although often spoken of in future tense, the truth is machine learning is well and truly here. Without realising, consumers interact with ‘smart’ technology at almost every touch point; from robotic vacuums to facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence (AI) is helping to complete tasks faster, cheaper and – sometimes - more effectively than ever before.

In an economy that’s driven by speed and efficiency, it should come as no surprise that a computer’s ability to communicate at a trillion bits per second is favoured above the human capability of about 10 bits.

McKinsey recently reported that 40 per cent of work tasks can be automated using existing technology, prompting everyone from factory workers to lawyers and accountants to consider the threat of being replaced by robots as not just inevitable, but imminent.

For technologists, we are witnessing first-hand how this emerging field is transforming the companies we work for.

In my work at Isentia, we use machine learning to process seven million news items each day. Not long ago this was a task relegated performed solely by humans with the mind-numbing task of flipping through newspapers in search of stories that might relate to a client.

We have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible.

Today, machines trawl video, audio and digital content across over 5,500 new sites at a rate of 234 stories per second and present meaningful summaries to clients in real-time.

Whether a story breaks on Twitter and then spills across news platforms and onto television and radio, machine learning can track and analyse how a story evolves with 99 per cent accuracy.

While AI is revolutionising the way that we work, the impact is far greater for those in the tech industry. In our mission to develop software that can learn complex problems without needing to be taught how, the success of the AI industry ultimately comes down to technology professionals: our ability to automate, and the pace at which we expand the field of machine learning.

With an annual growth rate of 19.7 per cent percent (predicted to be worth $15.3 billion by 2019), it’s safe to say our foot is well and truly on the pedal. While this relies greatly on our technical capabilities, it is something that challenges many of us ethically: what set of values should AI be aligned with?

Two of the greatest technologists of our times, Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, have spoken about both the potential benefit and the harm that an AI arms race could deliver. An eradication of disease is not unfathomable, but nor is a threat to humanity. They hold grave concerns as to whether or not robots can be controlled against misuse or malfunction.

While thought provoking, the immediate challenge is not killer robots, it’s job replacement. Employment may not seem like an ethical problem, but if individuals are automated out of jobs, the future for society is bleak. While the phrase ‘Thank God it’s Friday’ has forged its way into the 9-to-5 vernacular, for most people, jobs create a huge sense of personal and professional satisfaction… not to mention a means to pay bills.

An apocalypse might be somewhat melodramatic, however I do agree that it is important to consider just how closely we should merge biological and digital intelligence.

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here? It’s both exciting and terrifying. The last time we experienced a revolution like this was in the early 1900s when cars, telephones and the airplane all emerged at once.

Contrary to the hype, there lies an enormous opportunity for humans to work with artificial intelligence, not be replaced by it.

Make no mistake: at some level every job can be carried out by a robot. But there are certain jobs, particularly in technology, that require decision making, planning or coding software.

While computers do a brilliant job of executing well-defined activities - such as telling us the fastest route to get from home to work - it is safe to say that humans are an essential component of goal setting, interpreting results, humour, sarcasm and implementing common sense checks.

The most difficult jobs to automate are those that involve managing and developing people. While in this industry most of our jobs are safe (for now), we should heed the advice of Musk and Hawkings and protect those outside our field by proceeding with caution. How then to facilitate human and robots working together harmoniously without the workforce morphing into cyborgs? The secret is to not sail out farther we can row back.

As technologists, we also have a duty to empower those around us to learn everything they can about what their job may evolve into in order to become the very best man-machine partner possible. It's the best, and most ethical, way to prepare for the inevitable advent of AI.

First publish in CIO New Zealand

Andrea Walsh, CIO

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It’s time to slow down the AI arms race

Computers can already take orders, fold clothes and even drive cars, but where to from here?

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The circular economy of Australia’s soft plastics recycling system

You’ve probably heard of REDcycle by now - the initiative started by a passionate mum, providing Australian’s with the opportunity to recycle their soft plastics. Its operation helped reduce the amount of landfill in Australia and its sudden halt in operation sent the community into a frenzy.

The pause in the popular REDcycle program presented an opportunity to rethink the model for soft plastics recycling in Australia and find end markets for recycled package content. It also prompted Australians to rethink the way they consume products, rather than just the way they recycle them.

Social media conversations show Australians continue to encourage retailers and large corporations to use their influential power to create impactful change. These conversations are heightened where regression (or progression) is made towards sustainability.

Soft plastic recycling to the kerb

As Australians become more conscience about their soft plastic usage, it raises the question of whether the collapse of the REDcycle program was a blessing in disguise or more of a curse on sustainability?

From the end of October 2022 to the end of March 2023, Australians have consistently felt negative sentiment towards REDcycle’s collapse with spikes when key announcements were made by the organisation. Overall, close to 45% of Aussies felt negatively compared to 18.5% positive.

https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/13610533/
Source: Pulsar TRAC. Sentiment across online and social media between 29 October 2022 - 23 March 2023

A Twitter user sharing their frustration about soft plastic recycling.

The collection of coverage

As people learned the news about REDcycle, there was heightened concern about how soft plastics were going to be recycled. With over 12,000 mainstream media items about REDcycle or soft plastic recycling, it supports the idea that Australia’s broken plastic recycling system is distressing for many and more needs to be done. 

The halt in operation brought on more concern for the environment and ignited feelings of anger and distrust after thousands of tonnes of plastic had been stockpiled instead of being recycled.

Soft plastic coverage over time
Source: Isentia, REDcycle coverage across broadcast, print. Source Pulsar Trends, Twitter coverage. Source: Google Trends, search coverage ( 1 October 2022 - 20 March 2023)

Media coverage across different channels (social media, search, broadcast and print) shows spikes of coverage on the same days (9 November, 7 February, 27 February) but at varying levels;

  • 9 November - REDcycle announced it would pause its operations indefinitely. This shock announcement caused an influx of conversations on social media platforms which then caused people to search ‘where to recycle soft plastics’.
  • 7 February -  additional stockpiles of plastic were discovered in warehouses. People felt disappointed and let down by REDcycle.
  • 23 February - supermarket giants announced they would take responsibility for the 12,400 tonnes of soft plastic stored by REDcycle in warehouses around the country, ahead of REDcycle declaring their insolvency. This announcement gained more chatter across social media in comparison to other channels. 

Conversations on Twitter represent social media as the preferred option for users in comparison to broadcast, print and search.

Closing the loop

As political leaders have the power to influence their supporters on sustainability development, sustainability advocates are pushing Australian leaders to accelerate plastic waste regulations. 

Conversations on Reddit rapidly grew on 9 November - the day the REDcycle program paused. Overall sentiment was anger and sadness with many expressing their feelings of disappointment after learning their donated soft plastics were not ending up where promised. Others felt frustrated or angry towards large organisations who were not holding up their end of the deal, especially after taking the time to correctly separate their recyclable waste. 

At 40%, political enthusiasts far outweigh any other active community on social media and forums. Their ‘passion’ for Australia can be overshadowed, as they share their beliefs towards the government - ranging from incompetence to over governing. Generation Z are true digital natives and make up 22% of active online communities. This cohort is motivated to make more sustainable choices, if it means it will benefit the environment for the long term.

Who are the active communities discussing soft plastics?
Active communities on social media and forums discussing REDcycle and soft plastic recycling. (October 2022 - March 2023)
https://www.reddit.com/r/melbourne/comments/yom5bc/comment/ivjanll/

Supermarkets to the rescue

The REDcycle program illustrated the complexity of soft plastics recycling and the need to build robust systems to close the loop on this common household waste. For years there have been stockpiling issues, dumping, toxic fires and lax regulations, making it challenging to operate.

Australia’s largest supermarkets continue to work towards reducing unnecessary plastics in their stores, and support the development of circular economies through the use of recycled material. 

Supermarket chains have moved quickly to find an alternative solution, teaming up with the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS) with financing from the Federal Government and top food and grocery producers to establish the Roadmap to Restart Taskforce.

23 February 2023, supermarket giants announced the return of soft plastics recycling by late 2023, despite the lack of recyclers. This announcement generated 6 x the amount of ‘supermarket’ Twitter mentions compared to 1 Nov 2022.

Twitter mentions and soft plastic recycling
Source: Pulsar TRENDS. Supermarkets and soft plastic recycling conversations on Twitter.

Although it’s a promising development, announcements like these are what drive the conversations and force change. This rings true as sustainability advocates push for more substantial action to address soft plastic waste in Australia.

Large organisations are being challenged to rethink how they package their products and how they can be more sustainable, what about the government?

A RED hot go

Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, has been vocal in her response to the soft plastics recycling crisis. Initially, the program's failure was met with calls for urgent action with Ms Plibersek weighing in on the news, saying it was “really concerning” and put the pressure on major supermarkets to come up with an alternative recycling program.

Although it is acknowledged that the government plays a role, it has been made clear the responsibility also lies with manufacturers and packagers.

https://twitter.com/tanya_plibersek/status/1591611453098045440?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
https://twitter.com/tanya_plibersek/status/1633006755646177280?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

State and Federal Ministers are actively sharing their opinions and policies online in an effort to make change faster and positively influence their audience. Victorian Premier, Dan Andrews and the Victorian Government are leading the way, banning the selling and supply of single-use plastics in the state.


Commonwealth, State and Territory governments have jointly invested considerable funds into developing local capabilities to recover the challenging recycling stream and have committed to turning around Australia’s lack of progress on its recycling targets, setting new targets for 2025.

Who is leading the soft plastic conversation
Source: Pulsar TRAC. Influential federal and state leaders driving conversations about recycling and soft plastic usage.

Adding another interesting layer of insights on social media from our sister company Pulsar, is that reddit is playing a major role in disseminating sentiment surrounding the REDcycle program. The below chart shows the most recurring keywords grouped by channel. The larger the tile, the more times the topic has appeared in that channel. Conversations involving scientists were notable and finding a solution to plastic pollution was a key narrative.

https://public.flourish.studio/visualisation/13206820/
Top keywords by channel. (October 2022 - March 2023)
https://twitter.com/IJepson/status/1590496324209999874?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfwu0022u003eN

Trust was also a recurring keyword across all channels, indicating trust needs to be rebuilt. is something that needs to be rebuilt. Australians have begun to lose faith in the recycling industry as there is a lack of transparency into how much actually gets recycled.

The introduction of a new taskforce - the Road to Restart - will work towards rebuilding the public trust in soft plastic recycling. The taskforce also endeavours to ensure supermarkets and the packaging sector will get it right on their own accord.

The way forward

Conversations through online forums show Australians deeply care about sustainability, stating that ‘unless it can be recycled, it shouldn’t be produced.’

Social media platforms are especially fueled by sustainability advocates who need to share a broader awareness of recycling initiatives and earn potential audiences - conversations are widespread and emotions are elevated. Whereas broadcast and print channels are sharing the facts and the need to know information, directing audiences to use the information they have and to search where they can take their soft plastics. In addition to sustainability advocates, everyday Australians are learning how to pivot, seeking out support and ideas from fellow supporters on Twitter and other social media platforms.

If organisations can work together and policymakers can set clear legislative frameworks, it’s possible to implement necessary changes in both manufacturer and consumer behaviour to create a thriving circular plastics economy. 

The pause of REDcycle is certainly on its way to being a good thing for the environment.

If you would like to learn more about discovering how media intelligence can lead to insights across environmental issues or the active communities leading the conversations using audience intelligence, get in touch with us today.

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Blog
What’s the wrap on soft plastic recycling?

The circular economy of Australia’s soft plastics recycling system You’ve probably heard of REDcycle by now – the initiative started by a passionate mum, providing Australian’s with the opportunity to recycle their soft plastics. Its operation helped reduce the amount of landfill in Australia and its sudden halt in operation sent the community into a […]

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Isentia's parent company Access Intelligence has been recognised as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in the FT 1000, a yearly ranking by the Financial Times and German data platform Statista. The FT 1000, now in its 7th edition, ranks the 1,000 companies in Europe that have achieved the highest percentage growth in revenues.

Access Intelligence is an AIM-listed tech innovator, delivering high quality SaaS products that address the fundamental business needs of clients in the marketing and communications industries.

‘Understanding audiences has become essential for organisations across industries and geographies: we’re seeing that need grow every day, as more and more of our clients put media insights, reputation and audience intelligence at the center of their strategy,’ said Joanna Arnold, CEO of Access Intelligence.

The group powers the world’s most relevant brands across regions and industries: with over 6,000 clients worldwide, Access Intelligence helps clients like Apple, Coca-Cola, Pfizer, the UK House of Commons, HSBC, Twitter, and the Australian Government understand their audiences and monitor the media landscape.

The evolving Access Intelligence portfolio includes Isentia, the market-leading media monitoring, intelligence and insights solution provider; Pulsar, the audience intelligence and social listening platform; Vuelio, which provides monitoring, insight, engagement and evaluation tools for politics, editorial and social media in one place; and ResponseSource, the network that connects journalists and influencers to the PR and communications industry.

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Blog
FT names Isentia’s parent company one of Europe’s fastest growing companies

Isentia’s parent company Access Intelligence has been recognised as one of Europe’s fastest growing companies in the FT 1000, a yearly ranking by the Financial Times and German data platform Statista. The FT 1000, now in its 7th edition, ranks the 1,000 companies in Europe that have achieved the highest percentage growth in revenues.

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“In the future there will be no female leaders, there will just be leaders” 

-- Sheryl Sandberg

Our recent partnered research with Women in Media showed there is still significant gender discrimination within the media and a long way to go before parity is reached. Female voices are being excluded in shaping public perception in industries where women lead in employment, such as retail, sport and health. This creates hurdles for female experts and sources, and demonstrates the largest gap between women employment share and media representation. 

All organisations have a role to play, with a responsibility to provide equal opportunities and outcomes for men and women.

Through the power of collaboration and raising each other up, it presents an opportunity for women to change the status quo.

Women in the workplace

Women’s voices and women’s participation within the workplace are lacking true representation and the amplification they deserve. Whether it’s in leadership, as a spokesperson or across the news value chain - there’s more that can be done to avoid misrepresentation of an organisation as this sends a conflicting message to their audience.

As the Women in Media research suggests, to avoid underrepresentation, organisations should:

  • Review and assess their level of representation
  • Invest in training and development for spokeswomen and
  • Commit to monitor change. 

Workplaces have a responsibility to ensure there is a focus on gender balance through inclusion and diversity as well as provide support and visibility of pathways to leadership roles.

Mapping out the right spokesperson

When choosing a spokesperson, it's the role of an organisation to select someone who is a well suited representative, and be able to provide the best answers for their key audiences. The characteristics of a spokesperson are similar to that of a leader, with competency (37%), confidence (31%), and good communication (26%) being the most important. They also need to speak with authority, with their opinions being trusted, but also an ability to connect with stakeholders and not shy away from empathy, if it’s needed. 

Women need to be given the support and authority to be a trusted brand ambassador or spokesperson for the organisation. 

At a time when a story hits the media, there is a framework organisations can put into place to ensure success:

  • Subject: who is the subject of the story and whose perspective does it amplify.
  • Narrative: what are the stories being told or what stories are being missed. I.e. Consider which stories are written by women/men or feature more women/men, who is telling the story - experts, sources, spokespeople etc.
  • Opportunity: 1. how much opportunity does the spokesperson have to express their opinion, how frequently are they visually represented, what role do they play and how are they portrayed? 2. provide training and development of spokeswomen to contribute to achieving gender equity in the media. And as spokeswomen are called on their leadership and expertise, it will present a fair representation of Australian society.

Women in Media Gender Scorecard

The Women in Media Scorecard explores the visibility of women as authors, participants and subjects of news in Australian media. It identifies core areas in media analytics (bylines, sources, experts) to monitor change over time and positive or negative shifts towards achieving parity for women in Australian media. Isentia analysis included 18,346 reports from Australian press, radio and TV news coverage over a 14-day period, from 18-31 July 2022.

Trajectory to gender parity

Image source: Women in Media report

Some say a woman alone has power; collectively they have impact. 

Across all industries and organisations, when it comes to women supporting other women, there is power in the pack. 

Women often underestimate the value they can offer, the wisdom and knowledge they can share can benefit and support many women (and men too). 

From increasing productivity and enhancing collaboration, to inspiring organisational dedication and boosting confidence, women can be unstoppable when working towards a desired goal, together. 

“Women need to get behind other women. Encourage their expertise. Acknowledge their strengths. Champion their success. Amplify their voice.”

Interestingly, our research shows female reporters are 30% more likely to quote female sources than male reporters. This suggests that women do support women, yet women dominated industries are not being represented as such in the media. The highest underrepresentation of female sources tended to be associated with topics/sectors with a high female employment share, for example in retail, sport and health.

This presents an opportunity for organisations to increase women’s representation in leadership positions and boost women’s workforce participation. By doing this, it will encourage women to amplify other women and contribute to achieving gender parity within the workplace.

Men Dominate As Sources, Even In Industries Where Women Lead Employment

Source gender split vs industry employment

Gender parity in employment
Image: Women in Media report Employment data source: ABS ANZSIC division level employment over the year ending August 2022. Some topic groups that operate across multiple ANZSIC divisions have been estimated.

The affinity bias

The media hype plus cultural perceptions might showcase that women don't want to revel in another woman's success. Yet it’s quite the opposite.

Dedicated days like International Women’s Day are a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of other women beyond the divisions of national, ethnic, cultural, economic or political barriers. But it shouldn't stop there. 

Status quo bias and gender blindness are two key areas of bias within organisations. For whatever reason, when we think about a leader or a person with authority, our brains default to think of a male. The ‘think manager, think male’ norms continue to hold women back and contribute to a notable gender gap in self promotion within the workplace. 

Women are 33% less likely to promote their performance and only 60% of women actively make people aware of their accomplishments. And this wasn't due to a lack of desire, however it was more likely to attribute their failures to lack of ability. Because women feel the workplace is harder on them, they’re harder on themselves, causing their confidence to take a hit. Yet for women to advance in leadership roles or further their career, self-promotion is a must. 

In instances where women are confident and assertive at work, they can be penalised by others and be referred to as bossy. In fact, women are twice as likely to be branded as bossy in the workplace for doing the same behaviours as men.This can often impact their desire to celebrate their achievements and also have a negative impact on how well they are liked by their peers.

Working towards gender parity

Gender equity

Within the media landscape in particular, women reporters are more likely to:

  • Challenge gender stereotypes 
  • Raise gender inequality issues 
  • Reference legislation or policies that promote gender equality or human rights.

Yet they don’t get seen as experts in their field and get the bylines to showcase this.

The Women in Media research shows only two of the 35 identified topic groups (6%) recorded a greater share of women sources than men. Females are notably under-represented when comparing the share of experts in media reporting with the share of sector employment. The pattern of media underrepresentation in women-dominated industries extends from sources to the share of experts quoted. 

With the spotlight on gender equity, now is the time for women to support and amplify other women across all industries.

A call to arms

At Isentia equity, inclusion and diversity is something we are all passionate about and we choose partnerships that help us shine a light on these issues. We value the voice that our women leaders and employees can have within our company and industry and are always looking for opportunities to elevate their voices. 

Company CEO Joanna Arnold believes ‘the true value of insights is when it's used to shine a light on societal issues and inspire behaviour that drives change. Our innovation in audience intelligence underpins our purpose to help surface the diverse voices shaping wider societal narratives’ so that they can be better represented in the media and other channels shaping public perception”.

The Women in Media Research highlights that much work remains to provide gender equity and share of voice for women in organisations and through representation in Australian media. 

Organisations can play an important role in gender equity by:

  • Investing in training and development for their spokespeople and instill confidence into their female employees 
  • Constantly review and assess their level of female representation
  • Ensure the chosen person is an accurate representation of the workplace
  • Commit to monitoring change and
  • Build a supportive workplace culture

Moving forward, as more women encourage and support other women, the more will be received in return.

We can continue to support the positive impact organisations have towards female representation and gender parity. We want to improve the barriers and drivers for women representation in organisations across societal, organisational and individual levels. 

If you’d like to learn more about The Women in Media Scorecard or discover how Isentia can help your organisation with impactful insights-driven research, get in touch with us today

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Thought Leadership
Womankind: The Power of the Pack

All organisations have a role to play, with a responsibility to provide equal opportunities and outcomes for men and women.

Through the power of collaboration and raising each other up, it presents an opportunity for women to change the status quo.

Ready to get started?

Get in touch or request a demo.