The art of listening in the age of noisy voices

In an age of instant online judgement, don’t let your gut instinct get drowned out by noisy voices, writes BBC Studios SVP of Digital, Jasmine Dawson

Jasmine Dawson

Senior Vice President, Digital BBC Studios


We live in a world of instant online judgement. A world in which storytelling and credibility are more important than ever. Yet are we too overwhelmed to listen to our audiences and trust our creative instincts?

At BBC Studios we curate, commission and commercialise the digital footprint of some of the best-loved television brands in the world. From Bluey, to Hey Duggee, BBC Earth and Eastenders, we drove 10bn social video views in 2023. As part of the BBC’s commercial arm, we unlock advertising, sponsorship and branded content opportunities with businesses worldwide.

As platform specialists, we see that the way audiences consume content is evolving and diversifying. Brands, content providers and advertisers are all operating in an environment of immense change. It’s a media ecosystem where everyone has an opinion, where organisations and individuals find our creativity stifled by noisy voices.

Puncturing the myth of cancel culture

As the broader media narrative of ‘go woke and go broke’ has gained traction, navigating today's polarising media ecosystem demands that we collectively puncture the myth of cancel culture.

Alarmist headlines risk distorting the reality of how audiences really feel. We attract audiences from wide demographic groups to our social channels; BBC Earth, Top Gear, Doctor Who, and Bluey. Such high-profile brands often attract an unfair share of noisy voices.

Deciding what you stand for and then standing for it all the time is vital.

Jasmine Dawson (She/Her), Senior Vice President, Digital at BBC Studios

When Doctor Who introduced the character of Rose (Yasmin Finney), the daughter of companion Donna (Catherine Tate), noisy voices came to the fore. Rose is a teenage trans girl.

Yet despite a clutch of ‘controversial’ headlines and online trolling, the BBC received just 144 messages of complaint while 7.6 million people watched the episode.

Deciding what you stand for and then standing for it all the time is vital. Our complaints website explained: “As regular viewers of Doctor Who will be aware, the show has and will always continue to proudly celebrate diversity and reflect the world we live in. We are always mindful of the content within our episodes.”

Learning to listen to yourself

Embracing consistency in a volatile and polarising media ecosystem is vital to our success as organisations and individuals. We know that traditional methods of advertising aren’t as effective as they once were. Audiences are evolving and diversifying, and brands, content providers and advertisers must do the same. It has never been more important to collaborate, to collectively rise to this challenge.

Turning down the noisy voices all around us is never easy. But I believe that trusting your gut instinct is one of the most important and underutilised tools in creative leadership.

When we recognise that everything is not urgent we can better create the conditions for effective creative work. For how can you build a trusted brand if you don’t trust yourself?

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Guest Author

Jasmine Dawson

Senior Vice President, Digital BBC Studios


Jasmine Dawson is the Senior Vice President of Digital at BBC Studios

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