Portland Profile: Dan Townshend

Portland Profile: Dan Townshend

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career so far?

Keep things simple and cut to the chase. Key insights, actions and implications can be obscured in the detail. Be plain and simple about what actions we are recommending and be comfortable embracing blank spaces on PPT slides.

What is your favourite part about your role?

Being creative. I’m not sure people would normally associate research with creativity but I think the best research often is creative. From coming up with solutions for how we reach and engage with hard to reach audiences; to how you get to the bottom of what people really think; to how you present back the findings in a way that is compelling and memorable to your audience. Sometimes it can feel like there isn’t enough time for creativity but its often what separates a good piece of research from a great piece of research.

What has been your favourite experience at Portland so far?

We recently did a very quick 24 hour turnaround piece of polling for a client. Very few agencies would be able to turn this around in such a short time and it felt like I was witnessing (and participating in) one of Portland’s key differentiators – delivering rapid, high quality insights for our client.

How can research cut through the noise to help clients better understand their audiences?

By using the power of narrative. It is only part of our role as researchers to gather the data. We also need to take the separate data points, connect the dots and make sense of this through the power of storytelling. This is what makes research findings comprehensible and compelling; and what ultimately motivates our clients to act on them.

What do you do to switch off from work?

My default response would be to say following Norwich City FC but that hasn’t brought me that much joy in recent times! In addition to football, I’m also an avid reader of history, a podcast obsessive and I also enjoy relaxing into an evening art class (I’m looking forward to getting started on a new one soon in September!).

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