Interview with the memcom 2018 Young Membership, Marketing or Communications Executive of the Year

The ‘Young Membership, Marketing or Communications Executive of the Year’ award recognises individuals (aged 28 or younger at the time of the award entry) who have ‘gone above and beyond’ in their commitment to their organisation and its work. This year, Magdalen Wiley, Press & Public Affairs Manager from the Royal Statistical Society took home this highly coveted trophy!


Through increasing media coverage, developing stronger links with key stakeholders and staging several very successful events, Magdalen has had a tangible impact on the Society’s effectiveness at delivering for its members. She secured global press coverage for the ‘Statistic of the Year’ initiative, which led to the RSS attracting new members who were not previously aware of their work. Magdalen is also solely responsible for several important projects – one of them being the RSS’s Statistical Excellence Awards, which she has overhauled to great success.


Below is a quick Q&A with Magdalen following her memcom 2018 success. Thanks to Magdalen for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations again!


How did you feel winning Young Membership, Marketing or Communications Executive of the Year?

I know it’s a cliché but I really did not expect to win so it was a lovely surprise! Early on in your career, there is a lot to learn and sometimes having enough confidence in your abilities can be a struggle, so this was a great ego boost.


Celebrating with the RSS team

How did you celebrate?

I made the most of the memcom Prosecco on offer, although as it was a school night I didn’t go too crazy!


Can you tell us about the ‘Statistic of the Year’?

Statistic of the Year was a really different kind of campaign than ones we have done previously. It was a bit of a risk as we weren’t sure what reaction it would get, or if it would get any reaction at all. The coverage we got was really exciting. There are many misperceptions about statistics – that they’re only of relevance to academics or number crunchers. What I think Statistic of the Year effectively showed was that statistics relates so much to both important societal issues and to our day to day lives.


Magdalen accepting her trophy from television and radio journalist Zeinab Badawi

You’ve generated press coverage across a number of media outlets that were previously unaware of the Society’s work – including BuzzFeed and BBC Breakfast. Can you give any tips to peers about how best to do this?

I think it’s important to remember that building good working relationships with journalists is the best foundation for getting good media coverage. We offer a lot of behind the scenes expertise to journalists which has given us some really good contacts for our proactive press work. Also having a good number of expert spokespeople is crucial. We’re very lucky at the RSS to have fellows who are amazing at what they do and are enthusiastic about spreading the word on statistics to different audiences.


Do you have any top tips from your experience in organising events such as the RSS’s Statistical Excellence Awards?

When I first started planning events I could not believe the level of organisation required. You really have to plan everything to the finest detail. What I have learned is that inevitably things will not go to plan on the day but that is okay, what is really important is having engaging and enthusiastic speakers. Also, a drinks reception usually helps people forget if things do go wrong!