Introducing the firstlight newsletter 

Welcome to the first edition of firstlight focus, our monthly quest into the world of corporate communications. From Gary Lineker to the Pope, we’ve covered the highlights from our news radar this month, as well as a glimpse into the action from firstlight HQ. If you want to subscribe to get future editions straight to your inbox, head over to LinkedIn.

🗓 The month in review: 

Here we spotlight a few key stories from the month and hold up a communications microscope. This week, Lottie Skeggs summarises hot takes from the firstlight hive mind…

👩⚖️ BoJo’s woes: Boris Johnston mounted a bullish defence of his integrity. But did he do enough to convince Harriet Harman and a squad of sceptical privileges committee members? Verdict TBC. 

The takeaways: Other than the obvious ‘don’t lie if you’re PM’, Boris’ grilling is a stark reminder of the importance of clear messaging. The fact that this all boils down to lockdown guidelines being misinterpreted (or so he says), proves what we all knew all along – that the rules were about as clear as mud. 

📵 Will the US call time on TikTok? Shou Zi Chew, the platform’s fresh-faced 40-year-old CEO, faced a grilling by at-times befuddled members of the US Congress. 

The takeaways: Chew demonstrated leadership transparency under fire when he took to the platform to give a candid update on the developments. And it highlighted that where you get your news matters. Tik Tok itself is serving countless user-generated videos mocking congress and (entertainingly) Shou Zi Chew thirst traps. Whether this is down to a genuine groundswell of user support for the platform or because of some clever algorithm prioritisation, is up for debate.

⚽️ Gary Lineker scores a winner. The presenter left the BBC with egg on its face after refusing to take back a tweet he made criticising language used by the government to communicate its immigration policy. Lineker’s unwillingness to budge inspired a mass strike from fellow pundits. One eerily quiet episode of Match of the Day later, Lineker was restored and BBC bosses trudged off-field to reflect on their performance. 

The takeaways: The crisis was fanned by the BBC’s initial indecision and loosely applied in-house social media guidelines, but the critical errors were its failure to accurately assess a) Lineker’s likelihood to back down and b) what the ripple effect of Lineker’s position might be. 

🌊 IPPC sets seven-year deadline. In a landmark report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, authors estimate the viability of human life on earth rests on actions we take in the next seven years

The takeaways: Communicators have a critical role to play here. A quarter of UK adults still fail to see climate change as a real and present threat, as our recent research showed (see below). 

🤖 AI: Stay Puffed 

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Puffy Pope (Source: Reddit)

firstlight head of digital and content Neil Young reflects on the explosive arrival of AI. 

“You bust in here, guns in hand, now you find they’ve turned to f–––ing sausages!”

Logan Roy’s caustic rejoinder to his traitorous offspring at the end of SuccessionSeason 3 could also apply to over-hyped tech and tech platforms. 

It’ll be disruptive, they say. World-changing. 

Sure. But when? All too often you end up with bratwurst when you expected a revolver. The wrong kind of banger.

The curmudgeonly Logan Roys of the world have unhesitatingly put AI in the same corner. Until recently, all you had to do was look at the human hands in an AI-generated photograph. A sausage horror show. 

Then the Pope cruised into view ensconced in a saintly puffer jacket. 

The image instantly permeated social feeds. So believably banal that your thumb barely paused. 

Well, there he goes, you thought. Pope doing his thing. Pope’s gotta pope. 

But the image, it was revealed, was AI-generated.

For many, this will have marked the moment AI busted loose from the breathless confines of a certain type of LinkedIn post, emerging fully formed into the outside world, without a sausage to be seen. 

Puffer Pope is riding a wave of rapid-fire AI developments, led by OpenAi’s incredible ChatGPT, that will overturn how we do things across sectors. 

It’s our ‘iPhone moment’ – but super-sized. The arrival of a revolutionary new category that smithereens everything else, instantly making every other interface seem out-of-date. 

🌎 Re-thinking climate communications 

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In case you missed it, Sam Rowe recaps our recent report on climate comms.

Think you’ve got a handle on Net Zero? More than half the UK population would struggle to explain what it means, according to our report, Re-thinking climate communications.

Through our work with the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, we advocate for action on climate change on a daily basis. But is it enough? What else can climate communicators do to engage more people and drive meaningful action?

To find out, we held a focus group with climate sceptics. We got their take on everything from climate activists to Sir David Attenborough to create our recommendations for more impactful climate comms.

If you haven’t checked out the full report yet, take a look here.

In Brief