Week 8 - PR/Communications

I'm exhausted. The last 8 weeks have been wonderful, exciting, stressful, and tiring.  I've learned things I would never have had the opportunity to experience otherwise - and have definitely grown because of it.  The thing is...I'm tired!  Constantly moving around takes it's toll on a person...I have no idea how Sean did this for 52 weeks!!!

BUT. Enough whining.  I'm here to tell you about my latest, greatest, and FINAL - One Week Job.

I'm spending my last week of the OWJ program in Calgary, Alberta, working at the TELUS World of Science.  I'm shadowing Cassandra McAuley, the Centre's Media Relations Manager.   During her 5 years at the Centre, her duties have included that of Media Relations (both proactive and reactive), strategic-planning, member and internal relations, and execution on all planning.  Suffice it to say, Cassandra has A LOT on her plate ;)

We first met while I was freelancing in Calgary as a news shooter and interviewed her for some local news stories.  She was extremely helpful and knowledgeable when it came to the specific needs of dealing with the media, and made the crew feel right at home.  Since I have my Bachelor of Communication Studies Degree, but have never used it, I've been really curious to see how things operate on the other side of the media-scene.

The TELUS World of Science is a massive centre in Calgary, and according to their website:

Our goal is to present science in a hands-on, fun and dynamic environment. Our programs and exhibits are designed to spark the imagination, satisfy the most curious of minds and inspire a spirit of life-long learning.

Right off the bat, I love the goal of the centre.  To work with an organization that strives to better people's lives through education, is a goal to be proud of.

Monday morning we hit the ground running.  Cassandra had actually just returned from a week off, and while she was gone her entire office had moved!  This could be a little frustrating, but she took it all in stride, and we headed to the first meeting of the week.

The current exhibition at the Centre is that of Body Worlds - a showcase of human anatomy that uses the bodies of those who have donated them to science.  Basically, real bodies are put through a process called 'plastination', where they are preserved and showcased.  It's an amazing exhibit if you haven't seen it already - not gross like some may think, but definitely interesting.

The TELUS World of Science is winding down to their final 3 weeks with the Body Worlds exhibit, so our first meeting was with the Body Worlds crew and their plans for the last 21 days.  We talked about the possibility of extended hours, a 24 hour exhibit, photo shoots with local sports celebrities, banners, coupons for reduced ticket prices, digital signage, and even a guerilla-style 'Mr. and Mrs. Anatomy' event - where 2 models are painted up with anatomically-correct muscle structure and paraded around night-clubs and pubs to drum up interest!

It was interesting to hear about their plans; media contacts, event successes, attendance numbers, and other logistics.  The team was excited about what they had done, and what they had yet to do.

After the meeting and some personal exploring of the Body Worlds exhibit, I met up with the Discovery Team and learned what it was like to work on the exhibition floor dealing with the public.  I met Joseph, a 4th year University Zoology major, who showed me the ropes.  We took out a cart of fake hip replacements, knee replacements, and even breast implants.  The public is encouraged to touch and talk about what they see, while the employee explains how everything works.  It was great to feel part of the exhibit and to show off things that most people never actually get to see up-close, let alone touch.

I then got to help feed and water the 'critters' - something every good Science Centre should have!  They have snakes, tarantulas, millipedes, and beetles.  Joseph and I cut up fruit snacks, filled up the water sponges, and gave the critters their daily dose of TLC.

Day 2, Cassandra and I started our day off with a media breakfast , where a local radio station announced a name and program change.  She had been invited as a client of the station, and we hob-knobbed with other local television and radio staff.  After that, we headed back to the Science Centre where I got to be part of a RIG session, which is an "idea brainstorming session and rapid prototyping event." Employees from every department are invited to spend time in a workshop, coming up with creative ways of exploring and explaining science.  Groups were given a theme (ie: come up with a machine that demonstrates how people can see something, either above ground or below ground, that you wouldn't normally be able to see), and then given a certain amount of time to come up with a prototype of their idea.  The workshop is filled with all kinds of tools and materials, and as soon as the timer starts, everyone gets to work brainstorming and building.

I LOVED the RIG.  I think it's something every company should adopt, as it fosters teamwork between departments, creative problem solving, and full-out fun!  It made you think outside the box and work efficiently towards an end goal.  These sessions encourage ideas that one day may find their way into a Science Centre exhibit...

On Day 3, I learned about Social Networking.  All those of you who use Facebook or Twitter on a daily basis, know the value of being able to reach dozens, hundreds, or thousands of people at once.  The TELUS World of Science Facebook page has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks to it's regulator, Ashley.  She taught me all about engaging online fans, creating user-friendly content, and how to regulate something such as a Facebook page.  It astounds me how much Social Networking has grown in the last few years!  I can remember when Facebook was just getting started, and now a good chunk of the world relies on it for personal communication everyday.  Ashley's job seems pretty interesting...and judging by the time I spend online each day...it's a job I just might be interested in doing...;)

In the afternoon, Cassandra and I got to visit the construction site of the NEW TELUS World of Science.  It's been under construction for the last year, and there's still another year left to go...

The new Centre is going to be massive - 153,000 square feet.  There hasn't been a new science centre in Canada for a very long time, so this one is making waves both locally as well as nationally.  It was great to see something that the TELUS crew has spent years fundraising for, planning for, and dreaming about - finally start to take shape.  It's going to be an amazing space to learn about all things SCIENCE!

One of the reasons I love being at the TELUS World of Science, is because of what the centre stands for.  It creates an environment where exploration is encouraged.  Discovery Team leaders are encouraged to ask guests 'why' and 'how' things are the way they are.  I believe job satisfaction depends largely on the purpose of an organization  If you don't agree with your company's goal or are finding that they don't really even have a goal - what are you working towards?

Any position seems as if it would be rewarding at the Science Centre!  Cassandra has gone above and beyond by encouraging me to participate in so many different aspects of the organization.  Here's to the rest of the week, and all I have left to learn!

- Amanda