WTW – media is in a different place !


I had a peak behind the curtain at how the Willis Towers Watson Media Awards work. As I told the organisers at the end, I couldn’t see the point of them when I submitted this blog for an award and I can’t see the point now.

For the record, a lot of very good journalists were rewarded with a glass tombstone for their work in the past year. Anna Devine, Charlotte Moore, Claer Barrett. Stephanie Hawthorne and Jessica Beard got the pension awards. Professional Pensions and Pensions Expert were rewarded as publications.

In this article, I argue that some of the right people are getting the awards, but not for the right reasons! Meanwhile the people who are most influential in pensions , are not even recognised as journalists.

I’d tried in vain to muscle in and present a different style of journalism but felt out of place. Ironically, I couldn’t even get a signal in the room we were in so could not congratulate the winners or commiserate with the losers (me)!

Indeed , these awards seem to reflect an ordered world where journalists produce copy for the approval of consultants who then validate the process with a ceremony that revolves around canapés , drinks and networking.

Meanwhile the influence of journalism is now through social media. Social media did not get a mention last night. Paul Lewis, Martin Lewis, Jo Cumbo, the people who talk to the outside world on the big issues that effect our personal finances are considerably more relevant to “explaining pensions” than anyone there (me included) . They, by the definition at the top of the blog, are the media.

To be fair, the aforementioned know that too!

Claer’s work on twitter has earned her 20k+ followers and is – to my mind – as important as her published articles.

Progressive organisations such as the PLSA are now looking to these “influencers” to attend conferences to promote the conference for good or ill. This is about making their work relevant. WTW has the budget and human resources to adapt to this new world but what I saw last night could have happened in 2000 rather than 2022.

When I asked “why was I invited”, I got the reasonable reply “because you entered for one of the awards”. Many who won awards, didn’t show up in person so I guess that the awards have a cachet beyond the night, but I was left wondering if this isn’t a little self-referential.

This cosy relationship between consultants and journalists looks in need of disruption and I don’t mean that in a mean-spirited way. I mean that the awards need to correspond to how influence is generated – truly reflecting “the media”.

I hope that next year , rather than restricting pensions to DB and DC reporter of the year, they review the categories and look at “media” in a broader way.

WTW’s own David Robbins, LCP’s Steve Webb and the Lang Cat’s Tom McPhail are asking important questions around crucial issues such as state pension age, state pension administration , the role of MaPS and indeed the role of pension consultants. In doing so, they use social media together with established publications. LCP is closing in on a million hits on its website helping people get redress where the state pension is underpaid.

David Robbins seems to have an archivist’s love of holding politicians to account. Both are achieving influence in different ways but both recognise the value of the authentic voice. It was good to see David at the event last night, I call him out for this micro-blog which says so much so succinctly.

Tom McPhail and Ros Altmann bring the worlds of retail consumers to the attention of those in power (and vice versa). Both have created positive impact way beyond the power of the pension trade press.

Surely it is time that we widened the view of “pension journalism” away from historic notions and recognised that the way we read ,listen and watch about pensions, investments and insurance has changed.

Next year, I hope that social media will be recognised as a branch of journalism and that traditional journalism must compete with the more anarchic but equally effective work of those who use their own platforms – rather than those of the big publishing houses.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to WTW – media is in a different place !

  1. con keating says:

    As part of our research for the series of blogs we have been writing, we have been collecting the articles, notes and similar which have been prepared by the consultant industry for dissemination among their pension scheme clients and prospects. Few words come to mind is summarising the attitude of those pieces, but supine and supplicant are prominent.

  2. con keating says:

    I recieved an email this morning based on my comment above – it was referring to the submissions made in response to consultations by the consultants.” Many do yet few complain, and when they do, it’s with a voice that pre-accepts surrender.”

  3. Stephanie Hawthorne says:

    Hi Henry, A bit late to the party. I have just seen tour blog -,there must be at least half a dozen awards which financial journalists and others can enter. Headlinemoney has ‘an expert of the year’ which Steve Webb and Tom Mcphail have both won in the past – you would be ‘a shoe in’for that.

    Others have ‘social media commentator’ etc etc etc. The trouble is if journalists’ competitions were all extended to include industry expert bloggers, the ordinary journalist wouldn’t get a ‘look in’ and many freelances and young journalists who rely on these accolades to get work and advancement in their career would lose our.

    . But as a multi award winner myself, I don’t take them too seriously at all. At a bare minimum, they tell the world that a veteran like me is still ‘in the game’ and there’s usually a nice lunch and and all too rare opportunity to meet journalistic colleagues. Particularly as I was climbing the ladder, I found the chance of an award spurred me on to better work, especially when I read the outstanding quality of some of my competitors’ work and even more so these days,when sometimes I occasionally judge one or two journalist competitions.

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