Speaker interview with Tessa Murray

Director of Communications, Tortoise

What does a typical day look like for you as Director of Communications at Tortoise?

I suspect, like most people, there are very few typical days...There is a usually a mix of working with our teams on anything from: the promotion of the story we are running that week; building our Networks and Forums which bring people together to push change in AI, Responsible Business, the Future of Food, Accelerating Net Zero; meetings with our commercial partners on events we put together for them on topics ranging from reaching net zero to diversity and inclusion; and working on ways in which we can keep bringing more people into our world as members of Tortoise.

What is Tortoise doing differently from other communications media companies?

We have built a newsroom which focuses on slow news. In reality that means looking at what is driving the news and the forces that are shaping our world rather than chasing breaking news. We have a very different model to other news organisations. We don't take advertising and we have members rather than subscribers. We have built Tortoise with and for our members. Our newsroom is designed to be an open, welcoming place where different views and opinions are heard and encouraged. We are renowned for producing award winning journalism which has a human narrative at its centre. 

Do you think the Covid-19 pandemic triggered any new trends to how we communicate?

We have seen a huge shift to people consuming their news through the medium of audio. I also think during lockdown people felt powerless and unheard. Our model has something called the ThinkIn at its heart. These are open editorial meetings where our journalists, members and experts come together to make sense of things together. ThinkIns gave people a real sense of being part of something and being heard. Over 35,000 people attended a ThinkIn during lockdown and we know it made them feel they were part of something - a community, a bigger conversation.

On a personal level, where do you draw inspiration from?

I am incredibly lucky to have a job where I get to be in the room with so many brilliant journalists and experts every day of the week and the volume of information and insight I gather is huge. These conversations inspire me every day. The challenge for me is to get to the end of the week and find time to process everything - so weekends by the sea - either swimming or walking my dog - is when I do my best thinking. 

Can you share any mistakes or regrets from your career that taught you an important lesson?

I think like a lot of women I was prone to a bit of imposter syndrome when I was younger - I wish I could have done away with it earlier in my life. It's such a waste of precious headspace. I think I would have also told myself to not fear change as much as I did - some of things which I thought of as disasters at the time have given me the most useful experience and thrown up brilliant opportunities which I would never have considered otherwise.



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