Public Relations & Perseverance with Caitlynn Wendt

Public Relations & Perseverance with Caitlynn Wendt

Despite falling short of success in secondary school, Caitlynn Wendt is close to completing a Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) degree – and she has no intention of stopping there. A published poet and PR major, Caitlynn plans to take on a post-graduate honours programme in 2018, marking her fifth consecutive year as a Wintec student. When asked how she maintains such a highly motivated mindset in adulthood, the hard-working wordsmith credits one key factor: timing. 

After struggling with personal trials in high school, Caitlynn’s enrollment at Wintec stemmed from newfound drive, which has continued to thrive over time. She recently gave us an insight into her eye-opening Media Arts journey, which has seen her partake in the groundbreaking Design Hub pilot and have her work professionally published.  

What’s inspired you to pursue a degree in communication? Did you know you’d go down this path before starting your Introduction to Study course? 

I’ve always had a strong passion for writing. Initially, I wanted to pursue journalism as a career, but I soon found that public relations and advertising attracted me more. I think either way you go in communications, there’s plenty of writing. So I got what I wished for – a future in writing.

Have you been set on pursuing PR since beginning the BMA or did you decide part-way through? What attracts you to PR as a career? 

When I first started at Wintec I wanted to pursue journalism as a career. It wasn’t until the second year of my degree that I realised my passion was in PR and advertising. PR and advertising attracted me because of its creativity and diversity. In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.

In journalism, you investigate and write a story. In PR and advertising, you investigate and find creative ways to engage a specific audience – the fun part is figuring out how.  

You did not enjoy secondary school but you have gone from strength to strength in your tertiary education. Do you think this has made you a lot more determined to succeed academically and professionally now, as an adult?

When I was in high school, I was dealing with a lot of things. It was a difficult stage in my life and I think the timing just wasn’t right. When I decided to enrol at Wintec, I had realised that I could achieve my dreams. I was ready to chase them and determined to succeed. This time, the timing was right.

You became a published poet late last year when your piece ‘False Love’ featured in Issue 1 of Wintec honours project Emergent – do you believe studying for a communication degree has played a significant part in influencing your creativity and self-expression as a writer, or has this always come naturally to you? Has poetry long been a passion of yours?

Absolutely, I’ve always had a passion for writing and I’ve always practised that passion, but never pursued it until my degree. Through my degree, I’ve had opportunities to strengthen and share my writing on an academic and professional level. My creativity and writing have improved immensely and Wintec gave me an opportunity to share my work. This has encouraged my writing and made me realise that it’s worth sharing.

Combining your Introduction to Study course, the Certificate in Media Arts, and soon a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, you’ve essentially been studying at Wintec for four years – how have you maintained your drive and motivation? 

I always thought I wasn’t good enough because I’ve had people tell me that I would never be successful. Ever since I realise that wasn’t true, I’ve lived with the idea of failure not being an option. Every time things got difficult, personally and academically, I reminded myself that failure wasn’t an option. I’ve made it this far because I realised this was a journey I had to do on my own. I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one.

I told myself every day that failure wasn’t an option. I sacrificed my personal life to succeed, and I praised myself with every accomplishment to encourage the next one. 


Tell me about your experience being a part of the pilot Wintec Design Hub. What did your individual role entail?

The Wintec Design Hub was an amazing experience, both academically and personally. I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself.

I’ve grown so much through the Design Hub. It has given me the confidence to approach industry professionals, and the passion to believe in myself. 


As a Media Arts student, I helped my team with research and interviews, and understanding audiences when creating personas. There were a lot of creative thinking exercised in the Design Hub, and I think my experience in media arts suited those activities.  The Design Hub began with the goal of becoming part of the Global Network in the long run – it just happened a lot sooner than expected. I’m absolutely thrilled the Design Hub has now received an invitation to become New Zealand’s first Design Factory. The staff and students worked so hard and deserve this. Being accepted into the Global Network opens so many doors to the future for Wintec. It has been a truly rewarding experience to be a part of, and I encourage students from across Wintec to enrol.

With just one semester to go until you’re officially qualified, do you feel you’re almost ready to leave the student nest? Does your excitement outweigh your nerves at this point?

I still feel like I have a lot more to learn, even after four years, and I strongly believe in continually expanding my knowledge. I think there’s still one chapter left in my Wintec journey, and I plan to continue this chapter through to Media Arts Honours.  I am extremely excited to begin my communications career. I wouldn’t say that I’m nervous. I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.

I think the last four years have prepared me in every way possible. The excitement outweighs everything. I can’t wait.


What’s been the best or most rewarding aspect of life as a Media Arts student? 

I like the hands-on, practical approach. In Media Arts, you get a real experience that prepares you for the professional world. One of the best things about Wintec is knowing we’re fully supported all the way, and that makes anything possible. The most rewarding thing about media arts is that they celebrate everything – no work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of.

No work goes unnoticed. Whether it’s Communications, Visual Arts, Graphic Design or Music, every semester they remind you that you have something to be proud of. 

Thinking long-term, where do you see (or want to see) your degree taking you in the industry? 

I enjoy getting to know people as much as I enjoy writing, and I enjoy being a part of a team. Ideally, I’d like to work within a project team or in a leadership role within the community. I am also quite interested in not-for-profit organisations and the government. My end goal is to be a part of a change and ideally lead that change. I’m open-minded and anything is possible.

Do you have a piece of advice to offer our prospective BMA Communication students? 

Don’t give up – ever. The first stage of the degree can feel like it’s too much, but it’s completely worth it. The reward always outweighs the sacrifice. Keep pressing on, you’re far greater than you ever thought.

Thank you Caitlynn, for sharing your Media Arts journey with us. Find more information about Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts (Communication) here. 

Emergent

Emergent

Wintec is privileged to be the benefactor of Olivia Mead’s Honours Project as part of her Bachelor of Media Arts (Hons) in Communication.

‘EmergeEmergent Cover Imagent’ showcases some of Wintec’s finest creative writing pieces. Researching massive quantities of writing, Olivia has compiled a great treasure of past works, and sets a course for future writers that enables their work to be showcased in an esteemed way.

Thanks to Gail Pittaway and Cate Prestige for their guidance on the project and also in supporting Olivia advance her studies and career.

To purchase a copy of the book, please email: gail.pittaway@wintec.ac.nz

Students create brand concept for Kaivolution

Students create brand concept for Kaivolution

Kaivolution_Ruth_Katy_and_KarenWintec Media Arts communication students created the brand concept for Kaivolution – an emerging Hamilton food rescue organisation featured on Radio New Zealand National recently.

From Radio New Zealand’s website:

Kaivolution’s ethos is simple: ensuring good edible food doesn’t reach the tip before someone else could benefit from it. And in the space of six short months, the food rescue service is walking the talk. As of April 2015 it has saved 10 tonnes of food from going to the landfill, being ploughed back into farms or eaten by livestock. Instead, it has redistributed most of it to local charities and social agencies.



From Media Arts to Melbourne Spring Fashion Week

From Media Arts to Melbourne Spring Fashion Week

Find work that involves what you most like doing, says Media Arts graduate Hazel Squair. As the Communictions Coordinator and Social Media Manager at Melbourne Spring Fashion Week and other premier events, she’s following her own advice to the letter.

After completing the Bachelor of Media Arts (Public Relations), Hazel worked in communication and marketing roles at Jet Creative, the Waikato Times and the Waikato District Council before moving to Melbourne in 2007. She was Senior Communications Officer at Burnet Institute in Melbourne, and kept up creative side projects, such as contributing to the cookbook Martha Goes Green.

Hazel joined the Melbourne Spring Fashion Week team in June 2012, originally on a short-term contract, as the event Copywriter and Social Media Manager. We asked her a few questions, cos we’re nosey like that.

Can you tell us what your role involves?
The main purpose of my role was to develop a clear and consistent voice for the brand across all communication channels – including key copywriting for website and event programming, writing designer bios and runway descriptions, editorial pieces, marketing campaign copy, scripts for TVCs and radio, and PR collateral. I also managed all the social media for the brand: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, eDMs, and the MSFW blog.

MSFW is owned by the Melbourne City Council and upon conclusion of my original short-term contract, the position was extended to cover all the city’s premier events: Melbourne Music Week, New Year’s Eve, and Moomba festival.

Hazel

What are some career highlights for you so far?
A big highlight was getting to sit front row at designer runway shows – not something I ever imagined getting to do. I also got to sit on the media riser a few times (that’s the space at the end of the runway where all the media jostle each other for space to take photos of the models as they come down the runway), and it was hilarious – me, snapping away with my iPhone, next to all these fashion photographers with giant cameras.

I always get excited when I have an editorial piece published in a high circulation newspapers or magazine (even though I very rarely get a by-line!) and I’ve also had some more creative freelance work published lately as well, which has been exciting.

What trends do you see emerging in the marketing and advertising fields?
Not sure if this is a trend as such, as opposed to a shift in the industry, but I think the digital boom – particularly social media – has drastically changed the relationship between brands and consumers. It has given brands a ‘voice’ to communicate freely with their audiences, to target messages and engage in a meaningful way. With this freedom of communication, consumers have also become more empowered and there is an increasing sense of ‘entitlement’ regarding what they expect from brands: they expect to be able to speak to brands directly, and for brands to be responsive and reactive on an individual level.

While these digital platforms have obvious benefits for marketeers, with this benefit also comes a greater accountability – which many brands may not be prepared for when they dive into the digital arena. Brands today need to be more transparent than ever before, they need to be strategic about how they use social media and other digital tools, and they need to be prepared to deal with instant (and public) feedback from their audiences.

Not sure if this is a trend as such, as opposed to a shift in the industry, but I think the digital boom – particularly social media – has drastically changed the relationship between brands and consumers

What key skills from your Media Arts study do you draw on?
While the PR/marketing landscape has changed so much in the past 10 years, and the tools and platforms available to us as communicators are expanding every day, the same basic principles of effective communication still apply. Understanding basic principles of audience/message/context, developing clear brand values and maintaining the integrity of your brand – all these things are just as important as ever.

Specifically, learning practical things like how to write marketing briefs, media releases, advertising copy etc. have all been super helpful. It’s actually remarkable how many people in the industry cannot do these things well, and how much you appreciate having learnt these skills.

Try not to be too rigid in your exact idea of the career you want, or the industry you think you want to work in; instead, figure out what things you like doing the most – whether it’s dealing with media, or developing advertising campaigns, or writing – and focus on finding work which involves these things.

Any advice for current Public Relations students?
Try not to be too rigid in your exact idea of the career you want, or the industry you think you want to work in; instead, figure out what things you like doing the most – whether it’s dealing with media, or developing advertising campaigns, or writing – and focus on finding work which involves these things. Social media didn’t even exist when I graduated from Wintec, and some of the jobs I have loved the most have involved things that I would never have thought of doing, so it pays to be open minded.

Talk about the things you are passionate about to everyone you can, as you never know when and where your next opportunity will come from. Don’t be afraid of things you’ve not done before – grab every opportunity you have to learn something new and to keep your skills relevant!

A huge thanks to Hazel for chatting with us!

Find out more information about studying Communications at The school of Media Arts here.

Hamilton Slamdown: a poetic success

Everything from Buddha to Bowie to bicycles featured at the Poetry Slam at the Lido on the evening of Monday 25 April 2011.

Eleven poets were each assigned a five minute time slot to read or perform their poems.

Wintec BMA Communications student Kashka Tunstall organised the event and acted as the MC on the night.  The turnout was in her favour, making the organisation of the event worth the effort. 

 “I haven’t ever really seen big events happen in Hamilton (to do with poetry) although I know a lot of people in Hamilton are into writing poetry.  It was a shock…it kind of spilled out into this massive crowd,” says Kashka, estimating around 80 people in attendance.

Kashka says that this was the first of many slams and if the popularity remains there will be monthly occurrences of the event.

Awareness was raised through online social media site Facebook, a range of local and nationwide websites and by word of mouth.

Most of the poets were Hamilton based but people also travelled to the event from Auckland and Tauranga.

Kashka told the audience the story of a poet who had pulled out at the last minute after realising the slam wasn’t taking place in Hamilton, Ontario.

Wintec’s Media Arts Head of School Margi Moore was among those that attended, saying she was most impressed by the number and diversity of people there.

She said she was not surprised by the good turnout or the positive engagement as Hamilton is an ideal city for this sort of event, especially considering its’ student population.

Margi was pleased that a student had taken it upon herself to organise the event.

Ms Tunstall has been selected as one of 10 finalists to compete in Poetry Idol on the May 15 2011.  Poetry Idol is part of the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

The next Hamilton Poetry Slam will be held in the foyer of the Lido cinema at 6.30pm on Monday 30 May 2011.

dulcie-cummingsfritz-buijngabriel-bankier-perry

Graduate Diploma student part of International event

2010 Graduate Diploma student Pallak Manan shows that if you put in the effort, you will come out on top.

After completing her Bachelor of Journalism and Mass Communications in India, Pallak moved to New Zealand where she successfully completed her Graduate Diploma in Communications at Wintec.

Adamant she was going to jump straight into work, Pallak spent her summer holidays completing an advertising campaign for an IT company in New Plymouth, and began full time work for Taranaki Arts Festival Trust in early January 2011.

Here she is using her qualifications to work as part of an event management team that is in charge of the organisation and execution of International festival, WOMAD.

We speak to her as she tells us about the importance Wintec has had on her transition to New Zealand, and how friends have encouraged her along the way.

What were your goals upon making the move from India to New Zealand in February 2010?

I was already working there, but thought I needed to explore more and give my career an international exposure. So here I am in New Zealand…

How did you find the studying and learning experience that Wintec offered you?

It was pretty amazing and I have learnt a lot. All the tutors and staff are really helpful.

And I have found some awesome friends too!

As a result from my time at Wintec, I am now working for WOMAD NZ 2011.

Explain your new role for Womad festival in March 2011.

I am working under Chris Herlihy who is the Business Manager of Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) and Suzanne Porter who is the Chief Executive of TAFT.

For WOMAD NZ 2011, I am the Volunteer Coordinator (in charge of the volunteers) and the Zero Waste Manager.

I am looking over the volunteers applying for WOMAD 2011, managing and dividing them in terms of their areas of expertise or interest.  Also, I will be undertaking the volunteer’s training sessions to train volunteers for the festival as “City Hosts”.

As the Zero Waste Manager for WOMAD 2011 I will be responsible for ensuring that as much of the waste that enters the WOMAD site is either recyclable or compostable. The final outcome required is that there is diversion as much as possible from waste entering landfill. I will be doing this with the help from the volunteers.

What has been a highlight for you throughout your time studying and working within the media industry in New Zealand?

Studying and working within the media industry in NZ is the most beautiful experience of my life time. The people here are really friendly, helpful and open to new ideas.   This made me more comfortable in the environment as people are easy going.

I wish I had come here to study for my graduation so I would have got more time with my friends. However I have enjoyed all my time at Wintec. I would like to thank everyone for being so nice especially Debbie Page, Felicity Beadle and Suzette Major for being such awesome tutors.  Last but not least, I have to say Thank-you to Rochelle Jones, Jessica, Jack and Sam for being such awesome helpful friends.  They made my transition to life in New Zealand an easy and fun experience.  

Also, I can’t thank Tracey Wood enough for giving me the opportunity to work with her at Hamilton Community Arts Council for my internship.  I learnt and grew so much, and the experience definitely prepared me for my move to New Plymouth and position I am now in at TAFT.

Thanks

If you want to volunteer for WOMAD, check out the application forms, or get in touch with Pallak and give it a go.

Graduate profile: Bianca Angel

Bianca Angel is 21 years old and graduated with a Bachelor of Media Arts degree, majoring in Communication, in March this year.We asked her a few questions about her study and the experience of organising successful music festival ‘Shiverdown’.

What was the inspiration for Shiverdown and how did you go about putting it together?

Me and my partner Reti were talking about music festivals and I was going on about how I would love to do one. He said, why not? and that’s where it all began. I have always wanted to do events, even before I commenced my studies. Reti is a local musician, in the band ‘Knights of the DUB Table’, so it was natural that I choose music.

What has been the most satisfying outcome for you?

Having really positive feedback from all the people who attended, including punters, the police, band members and contractors.

How did Wintec’s Bachelor of Media Arts degree help prepare you for the task of organising a big event?

Wintec opened my eyes to how society, the media and the world works in general. Key skills I learnt that I needed for Shiverdown included writing media releases, how to write and execute an advertising campaign and media planner,  basic graphic design skills, plus the business and accounting skills I learnt in the class ‘Business for the Creative Industries.’

What’s next?

I really want a Shiverdown 2011! Also I am wanting to bring a family Guy Fawkes event to Hamilton, but at the moment this is still at the idea stage.

 What advice do you have for other budding event organisers?

 Try to create more than one source of income eg sponsorship, ticket sales, exhibitors etc. Be careful who you hire or choose to work with. Be aware of the worst case scenario, and make sure you are content with this, as it could become reality. If you want to achieve you have to work really really hard!

See images galleries from Shiverdown 2010 here.