This week we chat with @MegRayner who is the Communications Advisor for Metropolitan Fire Brigade focused on community engagement.
Meg has always had a passion for working in the media and communications industry, and her experience stems back to her second year at university as the Activities Co-ordinator. Meg has had a range of other jobs in media, from court reporter at a daily newspaper to an Associate Producer for Channel 7. Her current role in emergency services communications means she has strong relationships with journalists and chiefs of staff at all Melbourne media outlets. She is also super active on social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and her content is of a high calibre. On the side she is a co-founder of Prahran based charity Walk-in Wardrobe, which has raised more than $10,000 for Australian charities. The event has gained national media attention and sponsorship through her role as publicist .
Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
I am a dyed-in-the-wool Melbournite passionate about media, social responsibility and community engagement.
I love working in the media and communications industry, as I am engaging and enthusiastic about storytelling. I’ve worked in print, television and public relations, and am currently working in emergency services communications.
I’m a prolific tweeter and my Twitter feed is a mix of reality TV observations and public transport gripes. I’m a new home owner and dream of owning a pet platypus.
Tell us about your typical day in communications?
On the train to work I read our media clips and Google alerts and browse Twitter to see what is in the news that morning. I jump straight on social media when I get to my desk to moderate any comments or respond to enquiries.
If there have been any fires or incidents overnight I take the media release written by our operational communications team, finesse it and upload it to our website and social media channels. I might call around a few media outlets and pitch angles to them if they’re not already covering it.
Every day is different. If I’m not writing communications strategies and developing our campaigns, I’m media training firefighters, organising photo shoots, responding to media enquiries, writing Ministerial briefings, planning events or even responding to incidents to manage media at the scene.
The diversity in my days is what keeps me coming back to work every day and the people are fantastic.
When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?
I always wanted to be a writer and I loved knowing everything before anyone else – so I became a journalist! I wrote for a daily paper for almost four years, and then produced television for six months before I saw my current role advertised. It was the dream combination of writing, event management and autonomy I’d been craving.
Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?
Definitely the Safe Mistake Zone campaign we launched last winter with the CFA. After a few years of unsuccessful traditional fire safety campaigns that flopped when they hit the market we decided we wanted to do something different and impactful. We wanted to use social media and humour, a combination that hadn’t been done in the fire sector in Australia before.
We engaged a creative team who analysed all our fire data and determined that trying to scare people was not working, but engaging them in a fun message would lead to increased fire safety behaviour.
Our campaign hinged on the concept that mistakes at home caused most preventable house fires, and we urged people to visit our website and make a #safemistake instead. The content was shareable and engaging, we developed a website, we held a media launch at Fed Square and we sent out personalised #safemistake content to journalists and media personalities.
The post campaign evaluation in 2014 found 79% of people who saw the campaign took fire safety actions in their home and we won the 2015 APCO Australasia Communications Award.
The 2015 Safe Mistake Zone campaign has just recently concluded and I’m eager to see how it fared this year!
What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?
I was the first reporter at my newspaper to get an iPhone and I remember going to a car crash and emailing photos and my story back to the news desk; they had the story online before I got back.
The other big change is the role social media plays in how emergency management communicates with the public. I’ve been working with Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) on a social media strategy for how agencies can use the tools to better engage with the community during an emergency AND conversely, how incident managers can draw information from the community to help better inform their decisions at an incident – exciting times!
What quality do you look for in your communication team members?
Initiative! We work in a fast-paced, exciting and (sometimes) life-threatening environment and you need to be tenacious and confident in your communication skills to quickly and effectively communicate key messages and warnings to our audience – which is most commonly communities at risk.
We want people who can look at the firefighter jargon and turn it into easy to consume messages across a number of mediums (our website, for media and on social media).
Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’ something people think just happens with no idea how much thought and strategy goes on behind the scenes!