My Media Day: Kirsty Cameron, communications officer, Abertay University

KIRSTY Cameron is the communications officer at Abertay University.

She has been in post since August last year and is a former research assistant and freelancer with a background in health, nutrition and international development.

She submitted this on Tuesday, October 1.

What exactly is it that you do?

I do lots of different things. We’re a relatively small university so, whereas in larger institutions they might have separate people doing media relations, social media, PR, etc., I’m very lucky because I get to do all those things at the same time.

The main subjects I work on are the science-related ones – like forensics, sport and exercise, psychology and engineering – but I also work with our student recruitment and student support people to publicise what they’re doing. It’s my colleague, Chris Wilson, who works on the video games side of things that Abertay is famous for.

So, sometimes I’ll be promoting a new course we’ve launched, writing about one of our students who has won a competition or a sports event, or taking photos at an event we’re hosting.

Other times, I’ll be getting a comment from one of our academics for a newspaper article, doing some filming with Andy – our video producer – to bring somebody’s research to life, or speaking to one of our academics about a new paper they’ve got coming out to see if it’ll make a good news story.

So it’s great! I’ve learned so much from doing this job and I really enjoy it. Everyone here is so interesting, and constantly doing something new and innovative, so it’s a very exciting and a genuinely inspiring place to work.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Well, this week has been quite busy, as I was on holiday last week, so lots has been crammed in together. But yesterday, I was looking at the first cut of a video we shot about our latest art exhibition. I did the interview with the academic, whose research inspired the exhibition, and Andy is amazing at editing it all down to four-minutes, to keep people interested.

Today, I played about on Weibo a bit, which was quite fun. I don’t speak or read Chinese yet, so it’s interesting trying to work out what everything means! It’s my Chinese colleague, Phoebe ,who actually does all our Weibo posts, but I’ve been doing the technical things like making our page look smart and official. I was also uploading videos to YouKu, which is the Chinese version of YouTube, so that people in China can find out a bit more about us.

Then this afternoon, I was taking photos during a cake competition and got to take a cupcake home! It’s Abertay’s 125th anniversary on the 15th of October, so we’ve been running a competition for staff and students to come up with a recipe for a birthday cake that represents Abertay’s 125-year history. That took place in our food lab and was quite fun as well! Everyone in my office seems to think it was my idea, and I guess it would be a bit silly to tell them otherwise…

Yesterday, I was also writing a press release about soil, and other things I did were related to helping recruit people to some research studies. One of them is to do with the Dundonian dialect, which I am hoping to participate in. I’m not a Dundee native, but I do like the sound of the accent, so that should be interesting. Another thing I was writing about was our consumer panels which Food Innovation@Abertay run – they need people to take part in taste tests and things like that.

Tomorrow, they are doing one which involves whisky cocktails, so I’d better try and make time to go and take some pictures at that one as well!

How different or similar is your average working day to when you started?

I don’t think I could really work out what an ‘average’ day in my job is, because they, honestly, are all just so different from each other. I’ve only been working here for a year, but I suppose I do a lot more on social media now than at the beginning, because this was initially just a part-time position and now it’s full-time because of it.

Obviously, someone working in communications for a decade or more would have a lot more to say about how their day has changed as a result of Twitter and Facebook. Working in the media wasn’t really something I was thinking about doing until a few years ago, so I don’t know what it used to be like.

But I think coming to this job the way I did has proved quite useful, really, because I work with a lot of scientists and other academics, and I’m not sure I’d properly understand what they did – or know how to communicate their work – if I didn’t have a background in science myself.

How do you see your job evolving?

Hopefully, not too much, because I really like it the way it is! But my job changes every day, anyway, as there’s always something new happening here.

I think a lot of it depends on who we want to communicate with. It’s not just the media and wider public, but our current and future students. Although I love writing about things that’ll make it into the papers, it’s actually a lot of fun writing about, and for, our students, because some of them get up to the most amazing things.

So, thinking up new ways of reaching them and getting them interested in what we’re doing is important to keep in mind, and social media has opened up quite a few new avenues in that respect, already.

There are always new things coming up that we’ll think about branching out into. I reckon it just depends on what’s happening with technology, the media, and who we want our content to reach.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

Definitely seeing a story I’ve written, and worked really hard on, get picked up by the papers. But it doesn’t have to always be in all of them – sometimes it’s a challenge to find the right place for something. And when you do, that feels like a big achievement.