Newsdirect was delighted to co-sponsor the inaugural Scottish Festival of Political Communication, convened by the University of Stirling’s Faculty of Humanities and Arts, alongside Laura Westring and Charlotte Street Partners. The event aimed to shed light on the role of communication in politics, highlighting roles and industries that surround Scotland’s democratic institutions and interrogating the role of language in how information is spread across policy, the media and through everyday interactions. Former First Minister and Chancellor of the University of Stirling, Lord Jack McConnell, opened the festival by sharing his personal experiences regarding communication from his time in office. Four themed panels led by experts then followed, which discussed the words we choose, write, teach and lead by. In this blog, Emma Currie and Rory MacDonald share their thoughts on event.


Emma Currie

The Scottish Festival of Political Communication filled a clear gap in the market by delivering an event that highlighted lesser-known – but, of course, endlessly important – political career opportunities, held panels with inspiring, success-story speakers, and provided networking opportunities. I thoroughly enjoyed all the panels as they provided insights into the art of political communication – by respectively analysing the words we choose, write, teach and lead by through an ethical and inclusive lens – and meeting both field experts and those also early in their careers. In particular, I found the conversations about the experiences of women in politics to be extremely rewarding, as I could resonate with lots that was said and so took on board a lot of their guidance and tips. I also enjoyed the discussions between speakers which stressed the importance of exposing yourself to new situations, people and cultures in order to improve the perspective you take in the communications you produce, and thus the impact you have on politics, governance, and policy. Overall, I left feeling very inspired by the talks, motivated by those I had met, and thinking about how I wished the event had existed when I was still a student. Looking forward to next year!

Emma Currie is Newsdirect’s Scottish portfolio lead on education, skills, and the rural economy.


Rory MacDonald

The first Scottish Festival of Political Communication offered a wide range of thought-provoking discussion, with each of its panels delving into topics that shed light on how critical communication is to our politics and society. A personal highlight was listening to Jack McConnell’s perspective on how elected representatives, especially those in government, use language and tone to set national discourse and legislate on the behalf of a country. His emphasis on cooperation to pursue popular policy change, not only across party lines, but between governments and national media sources, was particularly intriguing. I found the festival’s emphasis on the need for more kindness and patience in politics and communications to be particularly moving, with many participants noting how the way discourses are widely engaged with have become more reliant on controversy and tribalism. I hope the conference will become an annual event and develop on its important themes, which I think deserve to be highlighted not only to students considering careers in communications, but also those of us who already work in the industry.

Rory MacDonald is Newsdirect’s Scottish portfolio lead on the transport and tourism portfolio and the editor of the Enterprise and Connectivity Today daily bulletin.


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