My Media Day: Katie Bell, communications manager, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

KATIE Bell is communications manager at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

She says: “The RCS is Scotland’s national conservatoire, providing world-class training in music, dance, drama, screen and production arts. The RCS has around 900 students from 55 countries, learning from the finest teachers in an unrivalled campus.”

She submitted this on Thursday, January 16.

What exactly is it you do?

It’s my job to manage the reputation of the Royal Conservatoire and to raise its profile in the UK and internationally. My department’s top priority is student recruitment. We take care of all the marketing, comms, social media and photography. The RCS is unique in Scotland so everything we do is special; each day is different from the last.

What did your working day today or yesterday comprise?

Today was a good day. It started with a meeting with the Principal to talk about the honorary doctorate ceremony on the 31st of this month, with musician, AR Rahman. He’s here for Celtic Connections and we are visiting his conservatoire in India in March with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, as part of the Commonwealth Games events.

This was followed by a meeting with Phil Cunningham and Andrew Panton to plan events throughout the UK to promote Glasgow and the Conservatoire, again part of the Commonwealth Games activities.

Then I caught up with some emails and sneaked into the dress rehearsals of the Merchant of Venice and our latest opera, La clemenza di Tito, a perk of the job. My team and I had a working lunch to catch up on long-term recruitment planning and, of course, iron out any issues that need immediate attention.

The afternoon was a blur. Our latest performance guide was delivered so it was all hands on deck to send it out. Legally Blonde, the RCS Big Band, BIG the Musical, the graduation ballet performance, La rondine, Hamlet and the symphony orchestra concert conducted by Jessica Cottis are all on my must see list.

The working day came to an end with a strategy meeting.

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

I started out as a student reporter on the Arran Banner, working my way around a few weekly titles and then having the best job ever, with Danny Brown on the West End Times.

I soon jumped to the other side and began working in PR at STV. Of course, it’s a changed landscape now and the media cycle is 24 hours. My department has responsibility for our digital output and we tweet, update images and converse with students and potential students at all hours of the day.

When I started at the RCS, it was a very different to the place it is now. For a start, it was the RSAMD (Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama) back then. Our student numbers have doubled, we have two fantastic campuses, our curriculum is second to none and we are the only conservatoire, outside of the Julliard, to teach high-level drama, dance, music, screen and production.

Scotland has a thriving creative and cultural community and the RCS is at the heart of this growing industry. The creative industries are worth more than £3 billion to the Scottish economy and it’s institutions like ours that help make that happen.

How do you see your job evolving?

There is no doubt that the media and the world is changing and we all need to keep on our toes. The arts and education sectors in Scotland are evolving like every other area and it’s my job at RCS to ensure we are ahead of our competition.

Our current Principal is an inspirational leader. He is a virtuoso trumpeter and students come from all over the world to study with him. He’s retiring from the RCS at the end of the Summer and our new Principal is joining us on September 1 from the USA’s Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University.

These are exciting times for the RCS and I am looking forward to being part of the next chapter in the conservatoire’s life.

What gives you the most job satisfaction?

The students, their talent and their enthusiasm. Welcoming them in first year and watching them grow as performers and citizens of the world is absolutely fantastic. I’m always very proud to show visitors around the RCS.

Walking through the corridors, hearing musicians practice, actors reciting their lines, seeing folk wandering about in bizarre costumes and seeing strange but wonderful sets being built – it’s great, I love it.

And at each graduation, I like to think that, in some small way, I played a part in getting them to that stage.