Workings at the heart of one of the South West's major infrastructures
Ellie Grange, a 2nd year history student at Oxford University from Devon, summarises her fortnight's work experience in South West Water's busy communications team
I joined the South West Water communications team for two weeks work experience: excited to engage with the busy workings at the heart of one of the South West's major companies. I was soon to learn about the intricacies of the ongoing dialogue between South West Water and the public as well as amongst company staff.
It soon became apparent that not only do the communications team react to media enquiries and customer issues on a daily basis, but they also devise proactive and positive opportunities to promote South West Water across the region. The team are often responsible for coverage and reports in the newspapers, TV, and radio and I was able to get involved by writing my own press release which I was even lucky enough to see circulating in local papers in the following days.
Amongst my daily tasks some highlights included: interviewing members of staff for an online article as well as updating the company website and customer literature and writing internal "newsflashes" for staff. I particularly enjoyed spreading news and information amongst the staff community, but also recognised that communicating to a wide range of internal and external audiences requires a range of different styles and approaches.
It was incredibly fortunate that my time at South West Water coincided with the annual heritage open days and so I was able to take a look at and experience both Roadford Dam and Pynes treatment works. I enjoyed seeing expert South West Water staff meet with customers to share their passion for the job and explain what goes on behind-the-scenes. I also helped out and talked with customers on the tours, all of whom gave positive feedback and expressed a genuine interest in the water industry. With them, I also took the opportunity myself to learn about the technical, impressive and, in the case of Roadford, beautiful infrastructure which the company owns and operates. I found the talk at Pynes especially pertinent because it was about the history of water in Exeter: something that was a revelation to me as a history student and which really brought home the leading role the water industry has had in the development of my local community through the ages.
Communication is clearly important to South West Water and there are areas which it recognises it could do better, butit was amazing how positive and passionate everyone was about the company.
The mix of fun and hard-work from my time at South West Water has heightened my aspirations to pursue PR and communications in my future career path. I now have a much better understanding of the diverse and multi-faceted opportunities this area of work offers. I'm grateful to the lively and kind members of staff with whom I worked. My fortnight flew by, but I am thrilled to have played a small part in helping out with such an important public service.