GDE740 - Week 6

Week 6 – Research

This week we’re looking into our developing strategy and project plan for our new project – this is our industry set project, so it’s something that has a lot more focus initially as the brief is set from someone else, but also gives us the opportunity to really delve in deep into a topic with the 8 weeks provided for this task.

The first question set to the practitioners this week was:

How do you develop a strategy and project plan for a client or audience in a continually evolving global market?

Representing FELD, Torsten was very clear in that communication is absolutely key – you need to fully, deeply and accurately understand the person on the other side of the project. Who is this being created for and why? Why do they need it? Why do you think it should be a certain way? Really research and organise your work now so that the brief will set about in the right direction. This is key and something I really need to bear in mind considering the last project – I really don’t want the same thing to happen here because I love the idea of this project!!

You have to make your assumptions, and those assumptions can be wrong or right. But you also have the chance to kind of mirror them back and challenge them

As with the above quote, making assumptions about what your desired audience want to see is a vital part of focusing on the end goal – as mentioned, even if these aren’t right, you can still challenge them and mirror them back. It’s also a reminder about failures – it’s not a problem to fail, it really isn’t – as long as you can challenge that failure and assess it appropriately you’ll recognise what didn’t go so well.

Michelle from Accept&Proceed really focussed on getting those foundations set – without these foundations your project won’t be so successful. Focus now while you can on building strong foundations – through research, questioning, communication – whichever way you want, just get the info you need and really nail down what it is you’re aiming for. Their focus on audience-insight research is right up my street – I love getting audience insights, getting their initial reaction to something and using this as a stepping stone. GET INSIGHTS AND SPEAK TO THE AUDIENCE – basically… This was again backed up by Wouter of Dumbar, research is vital to the planning and strategic planning they make. Interview, discuss and get a full 360degree view of the current market for this project. It’ll change depending on the project and the global nature of it but that will reflect in the planning.

Both Stijn and Luke are from Spekermann, the most global of these agencies – they have to approach each topic on both a global and local scale – being all over the globe, the market responses will be different depending on who they ask! This must be quite difficult and trying to explain a project to someone in a different country with different values or views will be tricky.

Overall, it’s clear that communication is key – both within the agency, with the audience and with the clients. Ground your ideas now and start to really nail down the brief. Really focus on what you want to achieve and develop from there. It was also clear that no agency had one set way of strategically planning a project – there is no set, one fits all plan. It’s dependant on the individual, the agency, the audience, the project… So many defining variables.

Reading Peter Phillips chapters gave me some good insights as to how to consider the audience and the brief we are creating. Although he set me back by stating that there is no perfect example of a project brief – I was initially unsure as to how to read into that statement, but I suppose that supports the others interviewed – there really can’t be one way for it to work! He also stated the following:

“The project could be thought of as a giant jigsaw puzzle. You will need to assemble all of the pieces, then attempt to solve the puzzle in a coherent and logical manner.”

— Phillips, P.

I think I really liked this statement because it highlights how I see a problem that needs solving – eg start with the corners and edges and go from there. Really do your research, turn all the pieces the right way up and work out a successful strategy. I really love this analogy.

Katee was a fantastic speaker and, although I didn’t take much from the talk, it’s so clear she loves what she does and appreciates being able to use her skills for good. You can take any problem you think needs solving and, through collaborations, discussions and design, try to fix it – this may or may not be successful, but still, you tried. She too loves data and research and, due to the topic I’ve chosen, I’m so keen to really get down into the research and data.


This is a really heavy topic so I had to be quite careful in the amount of time spent researching facts and figures and the amount of reading involved. However, I’d started the idea of this project by just how I’d felt having spoken to people around me – it was an instant reaction to the people in my life and how the pandemic has affected them. The research and data showed my findings were very much in line with the official data.

Mental Health Foundation

This is an ongoing, longterm study into how the pandemic is affecting people’s mental health across the UK. They’ve focussed on adults aged 18+.

As the above shows, as time has gone on this year, through the different ‘waves’, people are not as resiliant and are coping less well as restrictions continue. It’s evident this is a constant downward line and these statistics show people’s wellbeing is directly being affected as time goes on. I think this showed on social media too – initially, everyone was quite happy to be off work, working from home, spending more time in the gardens leading into a summer off school, university or work. As time has gone on, however, less time is available outdoors, we’re heading back into tighter restrictions and we can’t see an end to all this.

One thing I’ve noticed through reading this study, is the huge impact the pandemic has had on young people aged 18-24. This graph shows they are much more likely to feel hopeless or lonely – there’s a very evident divide between young adults and the older population. The number of adults aged 24+ who felt able to cope with the stress of the pandemic fell from 73% to 64% from Wave 6 to Wave 7. The number of young people aged 18-24 who felt able to cope with the stress of the pandemic fell from 64% to 56% from Wave 6 to Wave 7.

In the most recent poll, 45% of the UK population felt worried in the past 2 weeks alone. This is a huge number. 1 in 5 felt lonely in the past 2 weeks.

The Health Foundation

This paper studied the findings of the IFS research into people’s mental health in the UK during the pandemic. They found that 69% of adults were worried about the effect Covid is having on their lives. 63% were worried about their future and 56% felt stressed&anxious. Mental Health was shown to have worsened by 8.1% in April 2020 as compared to the same time from 2017-2019, this is a direct result of the pandemic. Young adults and women were shown to be hit hardest. They also noted teh loss of coping mechanisms available.


This, for me, was the most useful and shocking research paper – they also touched on the lack of support available which I’ll look at later. “Feelings of lonliness have made nearly two thirds of people’s mental health worse during the past month”. Loneliness is one of the main factors in affecting mental health during lockdown, it’s vital that this factor is picked up when looking at this project.

“Many people do not feel entitled to seek help and have difficulty accessing it when they do. one third of adults and over one quarter of young adults did not access support during lockdown because they did not think they deserved the support”.

— Mind

The above quote from the research paper is shocking – it’s also representative of how I’ve viewed the pandemic personally. More often than not, we’re more likely to not seek help because we don’t want to burden the NHS, our families or friends, or that we just don’t feel our problems are enough to seek help over. This was also reflected in the MullenLowe Samaritans campaign. “1 in 4 people who tried to access mental health support furing lockdown were unable to do so. Almost a third of young people (30%) who accessed or tried to access support said that technology was a barrier to doing so, in comparison to 17% of adults. Concerns about privacy appear to be a particular issue for young people.” It’s evident there were barriers during lockdown that prevented people from seeking the help they deserved.

74% of 18-24 year old’s mental health has worsened. In their responses, a number of participants cited that “knowing others were going through the same thing” was a helpful strategy that made people feel less alone. Reading other’s stories on Social Media was also cited as another was people felt less lonely, it gave them a sense of community and solidarity.

Click to access The-mental-health-effects-of-the-first-two-months-of-lockdown-and-social-distancing-during-the-Covid-19-pandemic-in-the-UK.pdf

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