PR students have Rudd-y good time at Africa Down Under

September 5, 2012

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Public Relations students from Murdoch University’s School of Media Communication and Culture lent a hand – and met some big names – at the Africa Down Under Conference in Perth.

Held from August 29 to 31, Africa Down Under saw government officials, industry and NGOs gather to explore business and policy initiatives in Australian and African mining.

Dignitaries included 17 African government ministers, Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who made quite an impression both on and away from the podium.

“Mr Rudd was amazing – really nice – and took a sincere interest in what we were doing at the conference and at Murdoch. We got to watch him give a press conference, and saw how he handled questions and shaped his message,” said third-year student Grace Ballantyne.

Ms Ballantyne, Melanie Trant and Ashlee Rose spent three days shadowing and supporting the conference media room team. The trio attended press conferences, took speech notes and crafted sample media releases – mixing support with learning in a real-life, high-intensity setting.

“The entire experience was amazing. I was surprised by how much I learned and how much my PR abilities improved,” Ms Ballantyne said.

The head of the media room team, Mr Kevin Skinner from Field Public Relations in Adelaide, was equally enthusiastic about Africa Down Under’s ‘protégées’.

“I’ve been in this industry for 40 years and would hire Grace, Melanie and Ashlee on the spot. I was impressed with their skill sets, their eagerness to learn and the speed at which they grasped what had to be done in the job – zoning in on news points and crafting solid media pieces,” Mr Skinner said.

Mr Skinner said the students experienced high-level press conferences, including that of South African Minister for Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu, who had to respond to media queries about the recent killing by police of 34 miners in her homeland.

“The students were thrown into the mix and showed themselves worthy of being picked up as juniors at any PR consultancy in Perth. I plan to make a few phone calls in the coming days regarding that very opportunity,” Mr Skinner said.

Comments (One response)

susan walsh September 6, 2012

Well done Grace, Melanie and Ashlee, sounds like you really showed them how dynamic our PR students can be- you have done Murdoch and yourselves proud!

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