Master of Communication
The most astonishing (‘yet frightening’) experience Deb had at Deakin occurred once she’d completed her core PR subjects and decided to venture into the journalism and creative writing streams. From Deb’s point of view, ‘students in each of these disciplines display very different characteristics.’ PR students ‘were princesses’, journalism students ‘had a very attractive cynicism’, whereas the creative writers ‘were from another planet – a sacred planet. Deep, mysterious, committed and very generous.’
Deb had aspired to complete a postgrad qualification in public relations, as she had a strong background in marketing and years of experience in the corporate world. Reflecting on the three years of study she put in to obtain her Masters in Professional Communication*, she recalls that the biggest surprise was ‘the fact that I could write, really create something that could engage the reader … I had always felt that was for others.’ She’d felt that she should probably stick to corporate writing, but ‘this was a profound revelation. The proudest moment of my life was when one of my essays came back with the comment “A rollicking good read!”’
She now finds that she can recognise good writing, and ‘read the profile piece in the Good Weekend and acknowledge the pain, trust and bloody hard slog that goes into writing about someone’s life.’
Deb’s PR work has seen her encourage local governments to explore the role of communications practice in councils throughout Victoria. Deb’s contention is that ‘a communication professional needs to be sitting at the directors table in their own right, influencing the way the organisation engages with its community.’ She has built teams of public relations professionals who question the status quo, and most importantly, influence organisations to become better listeners and communicators.
Deb has also started the conversation within local government around the risks and opportunities relating to true community engagement in decision making. Following on from this, she would like to create a series of ‘salons’ or ‘thinktanks’ for ‘exploring issues, states of practice or future dreamings, where really intelligent people share their thinking.’