Forward Action is made up of hard working, compassionate and dedicated individuals who have come together to work towards a better world with our charity partners. Each month, our Meet the Team series will highlight one of the talented folk that work here, getting to know what they do, what they think about, and what gets them out of bed in the morning.
This month, we’re chatting to Beth Miles, our Digital Strategy Manager. Beth works closely with our partners developing strategic plans to create mass, meaningful action. Keep reading to find out Beth’s top tips for entering the world of digital strategy work.
What do you do at Forward Action?
I work with a host of brilliant organisations. Together, we sit down and discuss what ‘meaningful action’ means to them. What makes our partners tick, what makes their supporters tick, and how can we marry the two? I bring in Forward Action colleagues, and using their insights and expertise, we come up with a brilliant plan to create mass, meaningful action.
What’s been your favourite project to work on, and why?
Recently we worked with Dignity in Dying, an organisation that works to legalise assisted dying. There was an important campaigning moment – a bill on assisted dying was going to the House of Lords to be debated by Peers. Dignity in Dying brought an interesting insight – that Peers tend to respond much better to handwritten or physical letters. They don’t have staff to manage their emails, so the common mass ‘email to target’ style action wasn’t a great tactic.
So, we created a unique action – using digital to create physical letters. A form generated 3 Peers’ addresses, and supported people to draft unique, heartfelt letters they could then print and post to the Peers.
Shortly after our action, the bill was passed unopposed, with loads of the Peers referencing the letters they’d received. It was really cool and so inspiring to be able to say ‘that change happened because of our work’. It’s rare to see the impact of your work so clearly.
What’s the one thing you would change in the world if you could? What’s your cause?
Biases really bother me – when people make false and harmful assumptions about others. I’d like to live in a more equal world where we celebrate each other’s strengths.
What do you wish more people knew about digital mobilisation?
That your budgets don’t have to be huge to do this work! I think organisational structure and the desire to do the work is much more important than a big budget.
And that it’s not as hard, or as ‘new world-y’, as I think it sometimes sounds. Our methodology is really just rooted in common sense.
What do you like best about working at Forward Action?
The people! Everyone’s so smart and willing to share, and have so much compassion for each other.
Then I’d say working with really brilliant organisations that are doing a lot of good in the world. And seeing the real world impact from the work that we do is amazing.
I also really like that we don’t gatekeep knowledge. I think that’s rare. We do a lot of internal learning to make sure our work is the best it can be, and then as an organisation we’re very keen to share that knowledge widely. We genuinely want organisations to do the best work they can and use it to create more positive change in the world.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words? How would you describe your role in 3 words?
I’d say… thoughtful, chatty… fickle? No, fickle isn’t the right word! But I often really empathise with multiple different perspectives! So, empathetic.
For my role… fast-paced, interesting, and rewarding.
What’s your hidden talent?
I can play 3 instruments! Piano, guitar and trumpet. I won’t tell you about the cheesy acoustic covers that I used to do…
What do you like to do outside of work? Where are we most likely to find you?
I like to play football. I play for a Goal Diggers FC, a 200 people strong club of women and non-binary people that come together for the love of the beautiful game. The club is all about accessibility, not ability.
Check them out!
What does a typical day look like for you? What are you currently working on?
Checking in on performance of campaigns we’re running, doing analysis and real-time optimisation.
Then typically, I’ll have an external call with a partner where we discuss insights and any actions or upcoming work.
The latter half of my day is more strategically focused, so writing proposals for work with new partners, or testing strategies for existing partners. Thinking about what things we know and what we want to find out, and writing up testing plans.
Do you have a favourite quote or personal mantra?
Ok, I have one! Let me look through my Whatsapp because my Mum sent it….
Ok, I’ve got it – you ready?
“Life is like a camera – focus on what is important, capture the good times, develop from the negative, and if things don’t work out, take another shot.”
In 2019, she sent me one positive mantra everyday, then for Christmas that year, she wrote them into a book. It was very sweet.
Do you have any advice for someone looking to do what you do?
Firstly I’d say, don’t sell yourself short if you don’t have charity experience.
Strategy skills are transferable across sectors. If you’re analytic or strategically minded – you should go for it. A lot of what we do is common sense, it’s just a way of looking at things – so if you’re curious and a quick learner, you’ll be fine.
To do the work we do at Forward Action, I’d say you need to be a genuinely compassionate person – I think that’s something we all have in common. So, yes, having the hard skills but also having that compassionate mindset.
Finally, forget everything you’ve learnt about marketing! Our approach is unique – at the crux of our work is broad, high-volume testing where we don’t make assumptions about how people feel or how they’ll behave. So leave your assumptions at the door and come with an open mind.