I was a Public Relations Officer at West Yorkshire Combined Authority for almost 16 years until October 2016. Among the major projects I worked on during my final 18 months were the stakeholder and opening event communications for Leeds Station Southern Entrance, and new rail stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge. But as well as large projects I’ve also worked on more day-to-day tasks such as bus service changes, fare rises, responses and statements from Transport Committee chairs, writing briefing notes, developing communications plans, managing the photo library, shooting and editing video, even the odd speech – a bit of everything.
Concurrently, for three years I also provided communications and public affairs support to Rail North Ltd., co-ordinating communications and acting as a contact point for all 25 partner authorities, managing their web site, briefing journalists, representing Rail North in meetings with other bodies and co-ordinating Rail North’s input into events organised at Westminster by All-Party Parliamentary Groups. This included ‘owning’ the brand, creating and editing content for presentations and helping design displays for Annual Receptions and other events, and working closely with the Department for Transport on major announcements, such as the announcements of the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises in December 2015 and their launch in April 2016.
While at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive my main projects were work around the Tram Train pilot and the Mass Transit Outline Business Case consultation, as well as general press and political stakeholder communications, plus Freedom of Information Act responses. I was the Senior Communications Officer in a team of four, working with and helping to develop the skills of three less-experienced colleagues.
I haven’t only done things involving buses, trams, trains and politicians though.
Before all of the straight PR work I developed the first-ever website for Leeds Metropolitan University, redeveloped it a few years later and then did the same at West Yorkshire PTE for a few years. And I’ve been a trainee librarian, fencing coach, IT support person and part-time lecturer.
Between 2007 and 2012 I did some award-winning voluntary communications work with Leeds United / Leeds Carnegie Ladies FC. As well as the obvious stuff, such as building a website, writing match reports and previews and the occasional interview, I ran the club’s Twitter & Facebook accounts, recorded post-match video interviews for uploading to YouTube and started the first Women’s Premier League live text commentary service from home and away games. I took on PA duties at home games and filled in for the Secretary at away games when required. I was even interviewed on local TV once.
To help out a friend, and wanting to practice my nascent PR skills, I joined 59 (Huddersfield) Squadron Air Cadets as Civilian Instructor in 2002. Although I was there as the Squadron’s Adjutant, sorting out the paperwork, I also took on Media & Communications Officer duties which meant writing releases, taking photographs and managing their new website (which I built) – work that was acknowledged by the Air Cadets nationally. I stood down as a CI in 2016.