Kathryn Crawford is the Centenary Program Manager for our client Victoria University. From education to music, Kathryn has held a range of roles in corporate communication, stakeholder engagement and social marketing. She’s led high-profile social campaigns and held senior communication and engagement roles in government and corporate sectors.
Your elevator statement – who are you professionally and personally?
Communications, marketing and management professional with over 20 years’ experience in a wide variety of industries, including education, property development, music, broadcasting and not-for-profit. I’m absolutely committed to achieving positive outcomes for all involved and count my strong relationship building skills as an asset to this process.
Personally, I’m a mad dog-lover, avid reader, consumer of comedy, and respecter of all creatures, great and small.
Tell us about your typical day in communications?
Is there such a thing? Anchoring the day is a nice strong coffee, and from there it’s a moving feast. I work in an open plan office in a University building, so amid the chatter and background noise of my own team are the colourful comings-and-goings of students and staff.
If I’m not in a 1:1, WIP, scheduling, coordination or leadership meeting with team members or the broader work unit, I’m answering the never-ending influx of emails, returning calls, having impromptu chats at my desk and brainstorming ideas. Sometimes I’m making connections with external colleagues and stakeholders and sometimes I’m just trying to find some space to t-h-i-n-k.
When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?
I’m not sure it was that defined. But my path seemed to be fairly well set when in Year Ten I had the opportunity to do a work placement at what was then known as Royce MS&L Communications. The glamour! The intrigue! The outfits! I knew I stumbled onto something. And that was just the tram ride down St Kilda Road.
Who’s your communication hero/mentor?
Brian Cox is exceptional. He has mastered the art of speaking with authority without being patronising – he has the ability to remain calm and rationale, even when answering the most ludicrous questions.
Closer to home, there are a multitude of exceptional writers and thinkers who manage to bring levity to dark and often humourless topics, which is a quality I admire. Ben Pobje, Clem Bastow, Waleed Aly. Exceptional analysts for our modern age. And a good investigative reporter is hard to beat. I relish the opportunity to delve into the work of people like Sean Kelly and Martin McKenzie-Murray. They make it impossible to accept lazy, turn-key journalism with their thorough, in-depth and always challenging perspectives.
Which tools can’t you live without?
Good humour, courage under fire and my exceptionally bright team.
What are the biggest challenges in your role?
People. Expectations. Money. The trifecta!
Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?
I might be biased, but the current Centenary project of Victoria University is a stand-out. Over the last three years, we have developed and (nearly) delivered a program of events and activities to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Footscray Technical School and 25 years as a University. The opportunities that have arisen because of this milestone occasion have been phenomenal – reaching out and reconnecting to lost audiences, reinforcing the value of partnerships, demonstrating capability and excellence in key areas, the ability to understand more about stakeholder’s needs, strong leadership and collaboration across the University… It’s not been without its challenges, but that just adds to the sense of accomplishment.
In developing the Centenary Exhibition, we have also been privileged to work with the University’s archives team to craft and tell the story of the past 100 years of our rich history and our links to the west of Melbourne. Through this, we learned the guiding principles and values of founding father Arch Hoadley and the schools’ leadership, are almost identical to those we espouse today, a century on! That is the sort of communication value you can’t put a price on.
Which campaign do you most admire?
I really admired Rosie Batty as she unfolded the ‘Never Alone – Justice for Kids’ campaign for the Luke Batty Foundation and took her message to federal parliament. Heartfelt, powerful, engaged and targeted.
What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?
The 21st century and the invasion of all-consuming technology. Using it to define markets, segment audiences, target messaging and track analytics is a far cry from the press releases we were taught to write at university.
If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?
We are already on UHT milk – trust me, there is no room for any more cuts!
What quality do you look for in your communication team members?
Integrity, passion, enthusiasm and honesty. And a genuine desire to contribute to the team. One in, all in, I say. Aristotle once said ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts’ and I tend to agree with him.
What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?
Always ask the question you’re worried makes you look stoopid. I’ve ended up looking far sillier than I needed to by being too embarrassed to ask the question in the first place.
Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’