The list has been announced in stages over recent days – with the individual in the top spot revealed today.
We're honouring people who have risen in prominence or significantly enhanced their reputations this year due, at least in part, to their comms prowess.
The full list:
20. Emma Raducanu, tennis player
Whether charming ex-pros, the tennis establishment or the general public, Raducanu has proven to be an adept natural in front of the cameras – and under the spotlight that her rapid rise to fame has brought with it.
19. Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of Energy UK
The former climate activist-turned-trade association chief executive has cut an impressive figure this year, during which she appeared as a panellist on the BBC's Question Time and discussed the implications of the agreement at COP26.
18. Jack Monroe, food writer and activist
The food writer and activist is a prominent anti-poverty campaigner, helped by her effective use of social media and a back story – as a single mother on benefits, who has lived in real food and fuel poverty – that adds credence and authenticity to her messages.
17. Professor Gail Whiteman, founder of scientific group Arctic Basecamp
Media-savvy Whiteman and the group of scientists and researchers she founded, known as Arctic Basecamp, were among thousands of activists and influencers to attend COP26.
16. Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland Foods
The Iceland boss and committed conservationist has been banging the drum about environmental issues for years (see his pledges on palm oil in 2018), and in November vowed to become the first UK supermarket to be plastic-neutral by offsetting its remaining 'plastic footprint' through the recovery and recycling of plastic where possible.
15. Mina Smallman, mother of murdered women Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry
Mina Smallman is a former Church of England archdeacon and the first black woman to have held this rank, but she has also become a lightning rod for how the police treat people from minority ethnic backgrounds.
14. Greg Jackson, Octopus Energy chief executive
Greg Jackson was one of the few energy supplier leaders who has not changed position in supporting a price cap from the beginning, despite calls from smaller suppliers for it to be lifted.
13. Feargal Sharkey, musician and activist
The former frontman of Northern Irish punk band The Undertones, Feargal Sharkey has for years been a leading voice in the campaign to protect the UK's rivers and streams from pollution.
12. Meera Naran, road safety campaigner
Earlier this year road safety campaigner Meera Naran was awarded an MBE, which she immediately dedicated to her son, Dev, who was killed, aged eight, when a lorry hit his grandfather's car on a smart motorway in 2018.
11. Anne Boden, chief executive, Starling Bank
Anne Boden founded the challenger bank Starling in 2014. It began life offering fee-free checking accounts through an app and only recently, since branching into lending and business banking, has it begun to break even.
10. Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer
Over the spring and summer months, Jonathan Van-Tam skilfully steered the COVID-19 narrative away from a tone of crisis and lockdown and away from daily briefings about the number of infections, hospitalisations and deaths.
9. Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets
In the wake of the shocking kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard by the then-serving Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens, Jamie Klingler became a powerful voice expressing anger about violence against women and girls, as well as the apparent inability of the Met to do enough to prevent it – or, indeed, to tackle misogyny within its own ranks.
8. Marcus Rashford, footballer and campaigner
The Manchester United forward, who we judged overall Communicator of the Year in 2020, makes the longlist again this year for his continued campaign to support vulnerable children during the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Michaela Coel, actor
Actor, screenwriter, director and producer Michaela Coel – now probably best known as the creator and star of the critically acclaimed series I May Destroy You – has spoken out on injustice for several years. As her star rose further this year, the trend continued, and Coel used bigger platforms at high-profile awards ceremonies to speak out.
6. Azeem Rafiq, cricketer
Before this year few non-cricket fans had heard of Azeem Rafiq, yet his stand against the racism he and some fellow teammates experienced at Yorkshire Cricket Club became one of the biggest national stories during the autumn and winter of 2021.
5. Sir David Attenborough, broadcaster, naturalist and environmentalist
The veteran naturalist and filmmaker's electrifying speech at COP26 in November, when he told world leaders at the climate summit that we must “rewrite our story”, will be one of the most-remembered moments of the year.
4. Rose Ayling-Ellis, actor and Strictly Come Dancing contestant
Throughout her career as an actor, and particularly during her appearances in this run of Strictly Come Dancing, Rose Ayling-Ellis, who is deaf, has communicated and connected brilliantly with the nation, becoming a clear favourite.
3. Jo Whiley, DJ and broadcaster
One test of a good communicator is whether their comms actually manage to change things. Sometimes this can be difficult to measure; but with Jo Whiley, her impact is clear-cut.
2. Pascal Soriot, chief executive, AstraZeneca
British-Swedish pharma multinational AstraZeneca has become an unlikely household name this year thanks to its role in developing an effective vaccine to counter COVID-19. At the head of this corporate success story sits Pascal Soriot.
1. Gareth Southgate, England football manager
This year the England men's football team enjoyed its best result in an international tournament since 1966. But arguably the most towering performance came from Southgate, who hung up his playing boots in 2006.