Common is a word that means so many important things to me.
- a shared, common space, where we can share experiences and insights from varied and different backgrounds, for the common good;
- the common-wealth, the community doing its best to ensure we look out for each other on a social level, particularly those who may not being having the best time of it, or who don’t have the best access to resources;
- ensuring access to power, and resources to the full diversity of what I call ‘common voices‘. Having grown up in a council house, one grandad a dustman, the other a toilet attendant, to me, class remains as an important an issue today as it always has been;
- common land, and common public spaces (like London’s South Bank, or Farnham Maltings) are a vital part of our civic inheritance. I am so lucky to live close to the beautiful area of heathland called Yateley Common (pictured on the banner of this blog). We must cherish these spaces.
In May 2015, a neurological condition called Arnold Chiari Malformation finally called time on my 25 year career in public relations, and higher education.
Prior to that, I was a senior lecturer in public relations and communications in the Faculty of Business, at the University of Greenwich. In 2014, I was awarded ‘Teacher of the Year‘, and ‘Personal Tutor of the Year‘ in the Faculty’s annual teaching awards.
Previous experience in higher education had included being the programme leader for the BA (Hons) Public Relations at the University of the Arts/London College of Communication (2007-2009), as well as a variety of visiting lecturer roles at institutions including Kingston University, University of West London and the London School of Business and Finance. I also taught professional CIPR courses for the PR Academy, with whom I co-wrote, and launched the CIPR Diploma in Public Affairs and Political Communication.
My move into academia had started in 2004, with a view to challenging some of the accepted norms of how PR is delivered, helping to coach some of the next generation of PR professionals, and hopefully improving standards and raising expectations. My former life was dominated by the worlds of music, radio and politics.
I spent five happy years at BBC Radio 1, where I was head of press at the station, charged with managing the station’s corporate profile, and the individual profile’s of the station’s DJ talent. Towards the end of my tenure, I was given added responsibility, preparing for the launch of BBC Three.
In the civil service, I took on a head of communications role in the Department for Education, charged with advising the Government on its communications with young people, and supporting the then Home Office minister, John Denham in his work on early interventions with young people through the Children’s Fund.
In my early career, I had roles which included press and broadcasting officer for Paddy Ashdown’s Liberal Democrats; press and public affairs officer to London’s voluntary youth services; and as an aide to then high profile London MP, Simon Hughes.
As a freelance consultant from 2002, I specialised in profile/reputation management, and working with clients in the radio industry, and aiming at a youth audience. I expanded my portfolio to offer media training, with partners including broadcaster Mark Goodier, to create bespoke packages. My clients have included Nicky Campbell; London’s Kiss FM; music recognition app ‘Shazam‘; the Radio Academy; Mark Goodier & Wise Buddah; Centrepoint; Sandi Thom.
Newly retired in 2015 because of my neurological condition, I am using my experience in a number of voluntary roles:-
- I began with volunteer roles as the communications officer for Citizens Advice Hart; and as an honorary patron for the PR Fraternity with students at the University of Greenwich. I had helped set up the initiative with a group of students back in 2011;
- Working with the Director of Sixth Form at Yateley School on some social media/communications ideas. More recently, I volunteered some time working with some sixth form students at George Abbot School, Guildford, helping them contribute to a forthcoming marketing campaign;
- In 2017, I set up a community podcast network/online radio project for 18 months – Sound Vault, launched in partnership with leading local arts/cultural organisation, Farnham Maltings.
- Most recently, I have got involved with the group of volunteers in my home town in Hampshire, helping to pull together a vision for a neighbourhood plan. It seemed about time to ‘step up to the plate’, and could be a way of put some of the things I’m passionate about in politics into practice. I’m co-lead on a subject group looking at issues connected with “Getting Around“.