Jobs at DOC: Otago Communications Manager, Andrea Crawford

Department of Conservation —  17/02/2012

Every Friday Jobs at DOC will take you behind the scenes and into the jobs, the challenges, the highlights, and the personalities of the people who work at the Department of Conservation.

Today we profile Otago Communications Manager, Andrea Crawford.

At work…

Position: Communications Manager, changing later this year to Communication and Engagement Advisor.

My faithful companion Zoe

What kind of things do you do in your role?

One of my roles is to advise, support and mentor Otago staff about media, communications, publications, interpretation and web publishing. I help field media enquiries and advise on communication of local issues making national news, in consultation with the National Office media team.

My main expertise is writing and I like the challenge of saying the same thing in different ways, whether it’s writing media releases, feature articles, communications plans, our newsletter (Good as Gold), media advisories, blogs, web pages, speech notes for the Minister, or pitching stories to the media on interesting developments within DOC. I edit the work of other staff, which could be a brochure or interpretation panel, and ensure it meets DOC standards and the new DOC identity.

Assisting film-maker Claudia Babirat make a video on Project Gold

Transforming technical reports into Plain English can be a mission for a non-scientific generalist like myself but the end result is rewarding if people can better understand a complex issue. My other challenge is to present contentious information in a positive way so it doesn’t detract from public regard for DOC. Some people call this ‘spin’, but to me it’s getting important messages out there.

I enjoy helping to organise and promote events such as our Conservation Week awards functions. I’ve been lucky to have been involved in an inspiring scheme, Project Gold, which encourages kowhai planting in Otago. I’m now managing this project with a team of enthusiastic Area staff. Another project I’ve helped establish in Otago is Kiwi Ranger which is proving successful in Wanaka and I’m hoping to set it up at other Otago sites.

In the coming year, I’ll be more involved in marketing, focusing on identifying and satisfying customer needs and wants and creating tailored strategies.

What is the best part about your job?

The satisfaction of seeing a positive story I initiated come to fruition, especially if watched by a large TV audience, then getting encouraging and supportive comments from the public.

Staying in DOC staff accommodation such as the Bannockburn Post Office is one of the benefits of working for DOC. Shame I tore my hamstring waterskiing this holiday. This is my daughter Marika (12) and our dog Zoe (8 months)

What is the hardest part about your job?

Managing media coverage of a contentious or potentially damaging local issue.

What led you to your role in DOC?

In a previous life I was a newspaper reporter, feature writer and sub-editor, then moved into communications eight years ago, firstly with the Otago Regional Council then DOC.

What was your highlight from the month just gone?

Seeing a sea lion mum and pup successfully moved from a busy Dunedin beach to a more remote location by Area staff, and of course the holidays, camping at three fabulous Otago spots.

The rule of three…

Three loves

  1. My three children
  2. My loony dog Zoe
  3. Walking through the bush or along the beach with my stick-and-ball-obsessed dog by my side

    Me and my kids relaxing at Bannockburn. From left, me, Jonny (18), Tim (24) and Marika (12)

Three pet peeves

  1. People who harm or abuse their children, spouse or pets
  2. Neighbours who party up into the wee hours
  3. Materialism

Three foods

  1. Most Jamie Oliver creations – he has the best recipes!
  2. Sushi
  3. Pavlova

Three favourite places in New Zealand

  1. Bannockburn, Central Otago
  2. Aviemore, North Otago
  3. Greenstone/Caples tracks near Queenstown

    Central Otago was the pick of places to camp over summer – hottest temperatures in the country most days

Favourite movie, album, book

  1. Movie: Secrets and Lies, in fact most Mike Leigh movies
  2. Album: Eden by Everything But The Girl
  3. Book: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Deep and meaningful…

What piece of advice would you tell your 18 year old self?

You can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Me and my son Tim at his graduation. He’s now working on his PhD at Otago University

Who or what inspires you and why?

Writers such as Tom Wolfe, Hunter S. Thomson and Truman Capote who radically changed the face of modern journalism and introduced a writing style that has always intrigued and captivated me.

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer/journalist. I loved writing stories from a young age and excelled at English at school.

And now, if you weren’t working at DOC, what would you want to be?

A freelance writer.

What sustainability tip would you like to pass on?

I’m afraid to say I haven’t got into the sustainability thing (yet).

Which green behaviour would you like to adopt this year—at home? At work?

To plant more natives around my home and encourage others to do the same.

If you could be any New Zealand native species for a day, what would you be and why?

An Otago skink so I could lounge about all day on a hot rock.

What piece of advice or message would you want to give to New Zealanders when it comes to conservation?

Seeing children’s eyes light up when they connect with something about conservation is one of my greatest pleasures. They are our future and any advice or message we pass onto them is priceless. If they ‘get’ conservation, this country’s future is rosy.