This week, for the PR Fraternity’s final event of the academic year (how fast has that gone?!) we got to listen to the inspiring Eduardo Goncalves talk about all the insights he’s gained from his astounding career. So, without further ado – let’s hear them!
With his parents speaking no English, it is incredible that Ed managed to get himself a scholarship to a good school, and secure a-levels that lead him to Leeds University. When talking about this, he claimed it was a “stroke of luck” – but was it? To me this seemed like an amazing example of hard work and determination.
It was here that Ed had his first taste of campaigning – managing to get a 2000 strong protest, along with local MP’s support and local media interviews, Ed was able to create an iconic image and even managed to get The Guardian’s cartoonist Steve Bell on board for a cause he was passionate about. In turn, this cause was his first taste of engaging with the media and changing people’s perceptions and public opinion.
Ed’s next move was to sleep rough on the streets of London to make a point that the homelessness in our country was being ignored – again, Ed’s charm of the media meant he secured coverage that helped him raise awareness of the issue.
Working in the US Congress Office provided an interesting insight into how the world’s greatest democracy worked. Ed was then head hunted for Charter 88, an influential organisation in politics.
It was now that Ed decided to return to university to finish his degree. Following this, he was approached by the BBC, and then moved to the Probation Chiefs Association, followed by the CND where he became an in-house investigative journalist.
After a whirlwind career, Ed took off to the south of Portugal in his little orange campervan which become the home for him and his wife for the foreseeable future. Completely self sufficient and building their home of 8 years, Ed still couldn’t keep his career from progressing…
Whilst out there, Ed learnt about the Iberian Lynx – the world’s most endangered big cat species, whose origins are in none other than Western Europe! Ed chose to set up SOSLynx, a charity that succeeded in it’s tangible outcome – saving a endangered species from becoming extinct. In fact, the five breeding centres set up contributed to the biggest conservation success story ever (impressive right?)
With no resources, only a knowledge of how to communicate with and use the media, Ed found himself setting up a local football team to support an unused stadium in the Algarve, which would donate a percentage of it’s ticket sales to the charity. He was even able to recruit Paul Gascoigne as the manager! Wow!
As a result of his work here, Ed went to work for the WWF and then to the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi, where he bought in a law that eliminated plastic bags in the UAE! He also campaigned to raise awareness of a desert island and managed to convince the community that it was part of their national identity, and something to be proud of.
Ed’s environmental background didn’t stop there, and he returned to the UK to become International Communications Director for The Climate Group.
Next on the agenda was Ed’s campaign to run for local MP in Rugby, to prove to the Portuguese community that they could be part of English politics.
If you thought Ed couldn’t get anymore inspiring, it doesn’t stop there – nearly three years ago he donated a kidney to his nine year old son, Luis, who then launched his own campaign because he was angry that some of the children he’d met in Great Ormond Street had been waiting 5 years for a transplant! Luis wrote a letter to every MP asking if they were a donor – and got an amazing response! (it seems a letter from a 9 year old can pull some heart strings!)
Just three months after his transplant, Luis spoke at the NHS event at the House of Commons – when Ed (his newly appointed agent) asked him if he’d like the opportunity, his response was…
“Does that mean I get to tell politicians what I want them to do? You’re on!”
Needless to say, this reduced the whole house to tears, and inspired Ed to set up the charity KidneyKids – Luis is an identical twin and seeing the affect this had on the family made them decide that others needed support too, so that they can deal with the issue that the disease can cause – isolation.
As well as his role here, Ed is currently CEO at League Against Cruel Sports, which is now a ninety year old charity that aims to implement a society where killing and harming animals for sport is a thing of the past. The organisation have campaigned for a number of influential environmental educational activities, and were the driving force behind the ‘Hunting Act’ which made that typical country hunt no longer legal.
I think you’ll agree that Ed really is a truly amazing, inspirational and formidable force, and he brought to life how anyone can make a difference.
The moral of the story? Well, I’ll let you read it from the man himself…
- Use luck for your own good
- It’s OK to make mistakes!
- Fewer, bigger, better – don’t overstretch yourself – throw the kitchen sink at one thing, and then move on to the next!
- Work both sides of the fence
- Strategic comms are immensely important!
- Focus on the outcomes – have a clear image of what success looks like, and what steps you need to take to get there!