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10 minutes with... Emma Matthews MPRCA

  1. Tell us a little about your role within Bournemouth University…

I’m a multimedia press officer, which means alongside liaising with journalists and sharing Bournemouth University’s news and achievements, I produce a wide range of multimedia content – from podcasts to videos and social media.

  1. Which three words best sum up Bournemouth Uni’s priorities and personality?

Creative. Innovative. Friendly. 

  1. What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment?

The changing media landscape - particularly within the local press - is both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry. In the five years that I’ve been at Bournemouth University, I’ve noticed a drop in the number of journalists working locally and able to attend events and interview opportunities in person.

This means that PR professionals need to manage client expectations around media attendance, but also be prepared to gather that content themselves. While this ultimately means that you have greater ownership and control over the content shared, it also means that skill sets need to change from pitching to producing.

  1. If you had to impart one piece of advice to a member of your team, what would it be?

Get out there and talk to people! It can be all too easy to sit behind your desk firing off emails, but nothing will ever beat face-to-face contact and building relationships in person – both with journalists and with people within your organisation.

  1. In-house versus agency – what key differences would you highlight to a student in a quandary about which path to follow?

Having solely worked in-house, I can only speak for that but I feel a real pride and value in knowing an organisation inside and out; feeling a part of it and genuinely invested in its successes and achievements.

I also feel that you can take more risks – if you try something new and it doesn’t work out, there perhaps isn’t that same pressure as there might be if a client is paying you to get results.

  1. What’s your best career moment to date? 

It would definitely be winning In-House Team of the Year at the PRCA DARE Awards this year. I knew we had a strong entry, having pulled together as a team to overcome some real challenges and produce creative and innovative content, but the competition was really tough. When they announced we’d won, I couldn’t stop crying (in my defence, I had drunk a lot of Prosecco…!) – it was brilliant to have our work and achievements judged as sector-leading by industry professionals against some big names (with big budgets!) from across the region.

  1. Has pursuing a career in Communications lived up to your expectations? Why?

Absolutely! Growing up, my one wish was to have a job where I wasn’t sat behind a desk doing the same thing every day, and a role in communications definitely fits that brief!

 Every day is completely different and I get to see and share the best of the university. One day I can be filming at an archaeological dig, the next finding out about a research breakthrough that could change the future of healthcare, hosting a panel discussion on Facebook Live, or taking photos of graduating students on a giant BU deckchair!

 I can’t think of many other roles that would give you such a broad and varied oversight of everything happening within an organisation, and then allows you to come up with interesting and engaging ways to share it with the wider world.

  1. If you could work for any brand, apart from BU, which would you chose? Why?

I honestly really enjoy working within the Higher Education sector. I love being part of the whole student journey – from creating engaging social media content for Open Days to enhancing their graduation experience, and sharing alumni success. I also feel that the academic insights and research we share are of genuine interest to the general public and can make a real difference to the world in which we live.

Dream job scenario though – Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. I love their brand ethos and tone (anywhere where I can come up with a good pun or two is fine by me!), plus I reckon the odd ice cream freebie wouldn’t go amiss…!!

  1. We all love the South West but what do you consider the key benefits of working in this region?

It’s such a beautiful location in which to live and work – my office is a 15 minute stroll from glorious golden sands, which is great for lunch breaks as well as content creation (and for a gal from land-locked Derby, still quite the novelty!).

Bournemouth in particular has a real buzz about it at the moment. It’s got the fastest growing digital and creative economy in the country, which means there are lots of bright young things moving here or choosing to stick around after graduating, and the area is thriving as a result.

  1. What’s your PR/Communications secret?

 Think about how you’d tell your mates your news down the pub.

It’s what we always tell people when we’re delivering media training, and probably sums up my approach to communications more generally.

Working in academia means that you often have to wade through a lot of complex ideas and jargon to unpick a story, but I think this is true of any industry or organisation that has its own specific terminology. 

It can be really useful to think about how you’d explain a story to your friends, who have no prior knowledge of your business or the subject matter, and keep them interested. That means no jargon, and finding the one killer line that will grab their attention and make them want to find out more. And if you wouldn’t tell them about it, it’s a sign it’s probably not a great story.

Plus, any excuse to get down the pub, right?!