Corporate Digital Responsibility

Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR):
a guide to ethical data management for business

Ethical conduct in business is not only a responsibility but a key strategic issue. In our data-driven corporate world, the digital transformation of organisations requires responsible action.

 

Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR) is a new field of practice on the responsible management of data and digital technologies. As our use of data products increases, CDR helps organisations to enhance security, maintain ethical data governance and take social responsibility for data services.

 

Our new report outlines key principles of CDR and provides a framework for responsible implementation. We explore:

The case for Corporate Digital Responsibility and the exploitation of digital technologies
How your business can take responsibility for digital security and sustainability
The role of communications in digital responsibility for companies
Social responsibility and corporate governance

Download a copy of the Allegory report

Corporate Digital Responsibility: What You Need To Know Right Now

“CDR calls for responsible business, bringing together the voice of professionals from many different disciplines. It embraces the arts, science, philosophy and politics. Organisations need a mechanism for surfacing a collective voice at board level”
Alice Thwaite
Founder, Hattusia and the Echo Chamber Club

About Allegory Communications

Allegory is a communications agency specialising in the intersection between society and technology. We help companies engage with the public to drive meaningful social change.

Our expertise in data security, digital technologies and organisational communication enables our clients to identify and mitigate Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR) risk.

We believe that, through great management and communication, companies can cut the risk to society posed by new technology products.

How we can help

Allegory has developed a six-stage framework that communications professionals can use to help organisations address CDR risk.

  1. Digital landscape analysis and audit
  2. Communication planning
  3. Community of practice
  4. Horizon scanning
  5. Internal communications
  6. Stakeholder engagement and society

Get in touch today to learn how we implement it with our technology clients.

Landscape analysis and audit

Communication planning

three people to represent audience mapping

Community of practice

Horizon scanning

Internal communications

Stakeholder engagement

Who we’ve worked with

Allegory works with organisations that use digital technology for social good. Our clients include The Alan Turing Institute, Health Data Research UK, Catapult Digital, The University of Southampton and many more. 

Case studies

Find out how our services enhance the relationship between society and technology.

Mastodon C

Securing an exclusive in the Economist, and coverage in the FT, Independent and Radio 4, that resulted in new orders and investment for this data startup
Read More

AI Readiness Index

Launching a report into AI readiness that strengthened Oxford Insights' position as a leading consultancy for AI and digital transformation
Read More

Data Pitch

Recruiting data-driven startups to join a European Commission funded accelerator programme
Read More

The Data City

Launching the world's first digital tech census that helped grow the Data City's reputation
Read More
We are a communication agency for health care organisations

Health Data Research

Co-ordinating communications between academic and industry partners for the launch of the Health Data Hubs programme
Read More

Data Trusts

Communicating the value of data trusts, through national media coverage and a social media campaign
Read More

OpenActive

Engaging the fitness sector community to make activity data more accessible and get 18 million people more active
Read More

Open Data Institute

Engagement with government, public and private sectors, to build relationships, support funding and generate leads for consultancy and training services
Read More

Web Foundation

Working with the WWW Foundation to launch the Open Contracting Data Standard, reaching 40m people with 60 high quality articles
Read More

News and insights

Find out what’s new in the world of communications, sustainability and technological transformation. 

Allegory marks 10th anniversary and explores why data will drive corporate reputation in the next decade

Allegory opened its doors in 2012. Since then we’ve helped universities, government organisations, technology and innovation companies to tell their story to a vast range of audiences around the world. And we’ve won some awards in the process.

As our clients have grown and evolved, we have become the UK’s specialist data communications agency, with unrivalled experience, relationships and knowledge. Indeed, 2021 saw Allegory publish a report setting out the urgent need for organisations to establish and grow their Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR), an emerging field of corporate governance and ethics

In 2022, we’re celebrating a decade of great clients, great results, a great team, and hard work, with a campaign of our own: Why data drives reputation. At the centre of the campaign will be six thought-provoking articles, written by company leaders and opinion formers, each exploring how data and ethical business processes will continue to change our communications world in the decade to come. Our six topic areas and authors are below.

We’ll be publishing these articles at regular intervals throughout 2022, and we’d love to hear what you think about them. Make sure you get to read them all by subscribing to receive them directly in your inbox and following us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Chapter 1: Valuing data

Author: Louise Burke, Managing Director, The Open Data Institute

From online shopping suggestions to recommended shows on Netflix, data now shapes many aspects of our lives. Over the past decade, organisations have accumulated and acquired huge amounts of data and have spent billions on managing it and using it to their advantage. Whilst society has benefited from these data-targeted services, people have become increasingly sensitive about how their personal data is used.

This article will look at how good data governance should be front and centre for all businesses: an essential element of the brand promise made to customers, shareholders and stakeholders. When done well, the data story told to these groups can add huge value to a brand’s equity, its loyalty and to its bottom line. But poorly managed, data is an incendiary asset. Lose it, abuse it, or ignore it and the cost goes well beyond any financial penalty.

Chapter 2: Understanding changing audience behaviour

Author: Mark Chambers, Head of Corporate Communications, Department for Education

Whether it’s Apple trying to lure millennials to buy the latest iphone, or the NHS encouraging hard-to-reach-groups to get vaccinated, effecting change and action relies on understanding behavioural triggers, and that requires organisations to collect and analyse the right data. 

This piece will address how behavioural science and the data that drives it is starting to take root in strategic communications, guiding the direction of campaigns, steering the creative process and providing the benchmark for evaluation.

Chapter 3: Countering misinformation and building trust

Author: Sana Bég, Director of Communications, Médecins Sans Frontières South Asia

The past five years have seen an exponential rise in the dark art of online influencing and the spread of misinformation. Hostile actors – whether sovereign states, groups or individuals – have used the proliferation of online social channels to target society with factual ambiguity, political spin and blatant untruths. 

So how do organisations cut through this blanket of mistrust? This article will examine how ethically responsible businesses can communicate to their audiences in a manner that is seen as authentic and trustworthy.

Chapter 4: Creating compelling content with data

Author: Sian Freestone-Walker, Associate Director of Client Services, Allegory

As competition for column inches intensifies against a backdrop of editorial cutbacks, how can organisations develop content that really lands with its audiences? Data is key. When packaged in an authentic way, data can illustrate and provide independent evidence for the story being told. 

This piece will examine how data-rich organisations can maximise their competitive advantage by using their data to create high-quality, action-focused content that aligns with the beliefs and emotions of their audiences, and has the greatest chance of effecting change.

Chapter 5: Building thought leadership in a digital age

Author: Charlotte McLeod, CEO, Allegory

I’ve chosen to write about thought leadership. This is a type of content that seeks to provide the best answers to the biggest questions on the minds of target audiences on particular topics, in formats the audience likes to consume. Quality thought leadership is increasingly important if an organisation is to build its reputation, influence key stakeholders, and drive change. But gaining cut-through has never been more challenging thanks to the rise of ‘click-bait’ and the ongoing decline of editorial media space. There is also increasing evidence that the younger demographics turn away from brands that fail to take a stand on the global issues they are concerned about. 

This piece will look at how business leaders can stand out in a competitive media landscape by making known their commitment and position on key issues, such as diversity, equity and inclusion; sustainability and ethical supply chains, backed up by the data they hold.

Chapter 6: Measuring impact

Author: Richard Bagnall, Chairman, AMEC (International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication)

As communicators, we start most campaigns by thinking about the end: the impacts we want to achieve, how we will evaluate them and the data we need to evidence change. However measuring impact has a myriad of challenges, especially for smaller organisations who struggle to access expensive proprietary tools, and for communicators delivering clever campaigns whose impact is often not seen for many weeks, months or even years.

So how do we prove we’re delivering on our objectives for our clients, our boards and others in our companies? This article will look at the new tools and techniques for analysing and pinpointing impact, and how data-rich organisations hold the evaluation advantage.


Here at Allegory, we hope you enjoy these articles and find value in them. Please share your views – we’d love to get some conversations started. Do you think data drives reputation? 

Goodbye for now, we will be publishing our first article soon!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the series and follow us on social media.

10 years of data and communications. What’s changed? Everything.

It’s been a decade since Allegory – then Thwaites Communications – opened its doors. The past 10 years have been a whirlwind of excitement, challenges, achievements, hard work and lots of learning – about business, about human nature, and about something which drives much of modern life in 2022 – data.  

Allegory is marking its 10-year anniversary with a new campaign: Why Data Drives Reputation, exploring the inextricable link between data and communication. Before that happens, I want to take a look at some of the changes, challenges and realities that have defined a decade for me, for Allegory, and for everyone.   

Back in 2012, as I watched the opening ceremony of the London Olympics on the TV and saw Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, live tweet ‘THIS IS FOR EVERYONE’, I had little idea that data would find its way into the heart of the agency I’d just founded, and into, well, pretty much every aspect of my life. 

I also couldn’t have predicted that within a few weeks I’d be working with Sir Tim himself at the Open Data Institute, where he is co-Founder of one of Allegory’s foundational clients, along with UK AI expert Sir Nigel Shadbolt (who is also Principal of Jesus College, Oxford). In September 2012, I and my fledgling business became immersed in the world of data, AI and innovation. And so it has stayed for the past 10 years. 

Data is everywhere, and increasingly visible 

In 2012, I certainly wasn’t using any of the on-demand, algorithm-led, data-driven services I use now. Deliveroo was not delivering my groceries within 10 minutes of an order; Zipcar was not loaning me a car to visit friends; and Netflix was not recommending its latest big hit show (in fact in 2012 Netflix’s first original TV series was released: Lilyhammer).  

Unless you happened to be down the pub with a bunch of computer or data scientists, it’s unlikely that data was on your radar at all in 2012 – except perhaps how much ‘data’ you had left on your mobile phone.

The pandemic has bought data into plain sight 

Fast forward ten years, and data is now part of a public conversation that was inconceivable in 2012. For the past two years, data has dictated whether we go out or stay inside; see friends and family, or (video) call them; go into the office, or stick to Zoom. Zoning into the latest Coronavirus statistics has become a habit for many – enabling us all to understand the current situation and have an opinion on what should come next. The pandemic, and, sadly, the current conflict in Ukraine, has also shown us how data can be used in misinformation and disinformation campaigns by individuals and groups with either ill-informed or dangerous agendas, and disseminated to millions via social media. 

There are so many things to learn from the pandemic, but I hope one of them is that data is relevant to all our lives – we can and should engage with it, but we should also understand its provenance. Whilst data was previously a hidden commodity, it is now recognised as a part of our national infrastructure, like roads and utilities, and we need to manage and engineer it in the same way.  

The pandemic has also shown us how powerful it can be when data is shared across borders. The World Health Organisation is able to quickly identify new Coronavirus variants because the global scientific community is continually reporting patterns and trends. The response from the best epidemiologists in the world is immediate. 

Communication never stands still

Just as data has irrevocably changed our lives over the past 10 years, so communication has evolved into a very different beast. In a media landscape which is dominated by 24/7 social media engagement and always-on channels, gaining cut-through is challenging for everyone working in our field. And of course it’s a much more crowded, competitive environment now. Everything has to be better all the time. Better stories (backed up by data!), better targeting and better impacts. 

As an agency, Allegory has responded by hugely diversifying its skills set: from a team of PR and strategic communications specialists in 2012, to a flexible, multi-faceted group of professionals able to run large-scale, multi-channel, multi-disciplinary campaigns in 2022. 

Plus ça change 

Whilst the world of data races on, some things closer to home remain constant: values, mission and work ethic. When I launched the agency I wanted to work with interesting people making a difference in the world. Sure, there was more money to be made in the corporate world, but that wasn’t and isn’t for me and those I work with.  We want to work with organisations that have a social purpose – across all sectors.

After a career advising UK government ministers, and reporting the news, I was used to applying intellectual rigour to every aspect of my work, and when I started the agency, I sought out clients where I was able to exercise that. I found it in (to name just a few) the Open Data Institute where we have worked to bring the value of data to public and private sector audiences over the past 10 years and in the Open University where we launched FutureLearn – the first UK MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) platform and in the visionary rebrand of the Energy Systems Catapult.  

But, without doubt, the greatest joy of the whole adventure has been the team – because any business is really about its people. I realised early on that to recruit dedicated, passionate, loyal staff is incredibly difficult and that we needed to ‘grow our own’, harnessing early talent and developing the strategic communicators of the future. Our internship programme has launched the careers of some truly excellent communications operators. They have rewarded us ten-fold with their dedication and energy. 

Charlotte McLeod, Allegory CEO

Now that I have stepped away from a day-to-day role at Allegory and onto pastures new, I feel very fortunate to have Charlotte McLeod as Allegory’s CEO, safeguarding and expanding my legacy, taking Allegory into its second decade and next iteration. Surrounding oneself with people who align with one’s values is always a great way to bring out the best in every situation. 

Onwards!

Why Data Drives Reputation will celebrate Allegory’s decade in business by looking to the future. We’ll be joining forces with six opinion formers from business and communications to explore how organisations can meet their goals by mobilising two huge drivers for change: data and communications. From responsible data governance and understanding audience behaviour, to countering misinformation and building thought leadership. Make sure you get to read all the articles by subscribing to receive them directly in your inbox and following us on Twitter and LinkedIn

10 years is a milestone for any business. Many don’t make it, and I’m extremely proud that Allegory has. 2032 – here we come! 


Emma Thwaites is Founder and Executive Chair of Allegory, and Director of Communications & Marketing at the Open Data Institute

New client announcement: The Alan Turing Institute

We are delighted to announce that the Alan Turing Institute joined Allegory’s roster of clients in August 2020.

The Alan Turing Institute is the UK’s national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

Named after the pioneering mathematician, computer scientist, philosopher, code-breaker and icon of the 20th Century, Alan Turing, the Institute carries out world class research, and collaborates with Government, academia and industry, to help solve real-world problems, like working to tackle Covid-19.

Allegory’s role will be to strengthen the Turing’s voice in the national conversation on data science and AI and highlight its research in the media.

Emma Thwaites, Allegory’s founder and CEO, said:

“Allegory has been working with organisations in the data sector for over eight years. We are proud that our experience in simplifying and communicating complex stories so that the right people can understand them has led to this exciting new relationship with the Turing. Many people know Alan Turing’s name, but they might not yet know about the vital work the Turing is doing.”

Sophie McIvor, Director of Communications and Engagement at the Alan Turing Institute, said:

“Data science and artificial intelligence are challenging areas of science for communications. Allegory’s previous expertise in securing high-profile thought leadership media coverage shone through, and we are looking forward to working with them to highlight the groundbreaking research that we carry out at the Turing.”

Here’s a short explainer video that tells you more about the Alan Turing Institute:

New year, new name: AI & emerging tech Shoreditch communications agency renames to Allegory

Thwaites Communications has started off the new decade with a brand new name, identity and website. Emma Thwaites, founders and CEO, made the decision to rename the company from Thwaites Communications to Allegory in 2019 to give all staff more ownership of the company and to lay the foundations for company growth.

Allegory kick-started the year with the announcement of two new clients including The National Archives and Barcode Warehouse. The team at Allegory will be rolling out digital transformation for archivists all over the country, ensuring digital records are preserved for future generations, and showcasing technology solutions that allow companies across all sectors to be more efficient.

The team at Allegory have also launched a new series of workshops and training available to their clients, wider network and staff that covers all aspects of communications including; strategy and planning, audience and messaging, media training and social media. Details of these training courses can be found on our website

Renaming a business is no easy task. A seamless transition to a new name online and offline is nigh on impossible, as a company name is woven into all aspects of a business. A complete refresh does give businesses the chance to reflect and think about aspects of the business that go beyond the name, like purpose and values, allowing businesses to develop strong brand identity and ultimately resonate more with their audiences and customers. 

For CEO Emma Thwaites, removing her name from above the door was the right decision:

The business today is so different from the one-woman-and-her-dog outfit that I started in my spare room in 2012. Everyone in the company is so invested in it, and I wanted to create a sense of ownership throughout the wider team. That just feels more straight-forward when it’s not my name above the door. The new name will create a bit of distance from me as the CEO, which I believe to be important. I’ll never lose my huge pride in what’s been achieved, or my emotional connection to the business I started but this company doesn’t just belong to me now, it belongs to the whole team.”

To find out more about this rebrand or what Allegory can do for you, please contact:

About Allegory:

Allegory is a full-service communications agency based in Shoreditch, London. Our team of communications professionals deliver communications strategies, brand development projects, stakeholder engagement campaigns, media relations and behaviour change exercises.

Established in 2012 by former Head of Strategic Communications at the Cabinet Office, Emma Thwaites, we have a core team of nine individuals, with a wider network of over 20 specialists and associates. In the eight years since we launched we have developed and delivered profile-building strategies for over 70 organisations.

We specialise in working with organisations using technology to improve services for the public. This often involves communicating complex messages to non-technical audiences in a simple way, and inspiring them to act.