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Working with an industry peak body, AusBiotech, where its key purposes are the development of the biotechnology industry and representation of AusBiotech's 3,000+ members, communicating with members, governments and the media is of vital importance.
As Communications Manager, I'm responsible (along with my colleagues) for reputation management (including branding), media relations (releases, placement of stories, comment) government relations, as well as publications. I'm the Editor of Australasian Biotechnology, AusBiotech's e-journal and make weekly contributions to Biotechnology News.
I believe the skills that are important to succeed as a public relations and communications professional are many and varied. Those of note include practical skills, such as writing, editing, listening and interpersonal skills. The skill I feel is most important for success, and has been the most valuable for me personally, is the ability to develop and implement strategy. In a role where there are so many tactics that could be implemented in any given situation or campaign, a clear and agreed path to a defined and shared goal is vital. It drives the use of resources, leads to the effective achievement of goals, and importantly it enables measurement to demonstrate outcomes.
I've held a range of positions in the field of communications. While studying at Deakin, I worked part time on media campaigns with a national mental health charity, and upon graduation moved to the corporate affairs team at Bristol Myers Squibb, a multinational pharmaceutical company. I've since worked with the University of Melbourne, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, and now head the communications function for AusBiotech. In all of these roles, working strategically has been the key to success. Although I must say that knowing how to use an apostrophe, semi colon, capital letter and an ellipsis has held me in good stead too.
The theory and insight provided by my undergraduate degree has ‘built’ a robust foundation for the addition of hands-on experience. It is this combination that has given me confidence, enhanced my credibility and allowed me wonderful employment opportunities.
While a typical day involves a significant amount of emailing, writing, phone calls and meetings, communications work has provided some of the most memorable experiences of my life and allowed me to meet many interesting people. It has enabled me to travel extensively, including to destinations like New York, Washington and Singapore. I've had the privilege of arranging an address to the National Press Club, met Members of (the Australian) Parliament, been in Canberra for the handing down of a Federal Budget - as well as working with some very impressive people who advocate on behalf of some of the most marginalised people in our community.
My advice to those wishing to enter a career in communications is to volunteer at every available opportunity; it helps to build a network, a folio of example work and invaluable experience. Use the opportunity of an internship as though it was a job interview, it might well turn into one. I recommend having a mentor. I was lucky enough to have a talented mentor when I was first entered the field, and while my mentors have changed over the years (and at times there’s been more than one) the benefits have been vast and valuable and their efforts very much appreciated.
For more information, visit the AusBiotech website.