As 2017 draws to a close, we thought we’d share this story of collaboration … and birds … to end the year!
In October 2017, BirdLife Australia and the c word collaborated with Deakin University to deliver a unique internship opportunity for Deakin PR and communication students. The students worked alongside staff from both organisations in a ‘Communications Command Centre’ at Deakin Downtown to develop and deliver a comprehensive national communications campaign for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, one of Australia’s largest citizen scientist projects.
Chief of Staff Liz Thompson shares highlights from the program as Deakin University students discovered their inner twitchers.
Senior Lecturer Ross Monaghan’s Twitter channel, @TheMediaPod has generated dynamic and interesting Work Integrated Learning (WIL) opportunities for Deakin students. Earlier this year, Jack Walden, of the c word agency, was so impressed by the student projects he had seen via @TheMediaPod, that he approached Ross with an internship proposal. This ultimately brought Deakin University, BirdLife Australia, the c word agency and six Deakin students together for an intensive two week internship collaboration.
The internship brief was to create a team of communications students to coordinate the promotion of BirdLife Australia’s Aussie Backyard Bird Count. The students were allocated roles according to areas of interest – media and social media co-ordinators, content creators, and a chief of staff – to create the Aussie Backyard Bird Count Communications Team. This team worked under the guidance of Stacey Maden, BirdLife Australia’s Communications and Events Coordinator, and Jack Walden, CEO of the c word.
During the two weeks, students developed short movie-clips, blog and social media posts and popular Instagram polls that generated lively engagement with followers. The students also developed and circulated partner program collateral that successfully promoted engagement with universities, schools and libraries. Media releases were prepared and circulated to media outlets which generated a schedule of interviews that the students also coordinated. One of the students attended the filming of an interview for ABC News Breakfast with BirdLife Australia talent at the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria.
The work-ready learning opportunities extended beyond the implementation of the communications campaign. They included challenges such as administrative and information management procedures, daily schedules, and even the creation of the actual workspace. Given that the team included students from four different continents, a large map of Australia was the first of many documents that adorned the walls of the “Communications Command Centre” AKA, “The Nest” at Deakin Downtown.
Ross negotiated to use the space at Deakin Downtown, which he says is a fabulous resource for industry-based projects such as this.
The benefits for students are numerous and well known, and WIL also keeps staff up to date with industry needs. Ross said: “I encourage other staff to get involved in these projects for first-hand knowledge of what industry is looking for with graduates. The bonus is that industry gets to see the great work that our students are doing. There is no better PR for Deakin.”
Jack Walden also reflected upon the success of this internship from an industry perspective: “The collaboration between BirdLife Australia, the c word communications agency and Deakin University not only delivered a great learning opportunity for a group of talented communications students, it also provided a significant boost in coverage for the Aussie Backyard Bird Count via traditional media and social media. Two million birds counted – what a great result”.