We spoke to a media advisor (who wanted to be kept anonymous), to gain some insight into the nature of working in politics.
You may be wondering what responsibilities are involved as a media advisor. Here is a glimpse of a typical day working in political communication.
- Average day started at about 6am (You always had to be awake by 6am because you never knew what time the media was going to call – I can tell you it was normally about then).
- Once the media had given a request (this could have been on the radio, online or just wanting the Minister’s position on a certain topic or issue) I would then have to call my Minister and find out if he was happy to do the interview.
- Then I would need to get all the background research for it and prep the Minister. This was such an important part of my role. As Politician’s have very large portfolios, they can’t remember every bit of information, so it is SUPER IMPORTANT they have all of the information they require and that they stick to the message.
Did you actually write a lot of media releases?
Absolutely! Definitely a lot of writing from the ground up. You have on average 30-minutes to write a media release, get it approved, signed off by your Minister and get it out to the public (media, statement’s site, Facebook, etc).
What was your favourite part of the role?
I think what a lot of people don’t realise is that as policy or media advisors, you can actually have a lot of influence. You get briefs that come across your desk all the time, policy advisors tend to read the briefs and then make the decision on whether it’s a good idea.
Do you get to travel?
One of the highlights of working in a ministerial office was the amount of travelling you got to do. Some portfolios probably have some more interesting places to travel than others. There was a lot of regional travel in the portfolios I worked in.
For example, I’ve been to Mt Isa twice, Charters Towers twice and Ayr once. I will say these are not some places people usually wake up and aspire to go to, but I mean it’s amazing when you get to see all the facets of what Queensland has to offer. Two of my favourite travel highlights include;
- Getting into an absolutely tiny plane that probably seated 40 people and wondering if I was going to make it out alive.
- Travelling on an overnight sleeper train from Charters Towers to Mt Isa.
So, yes you can definitely do some really interesting things. I believe travelling to these places is the only way you can really truly advise. You have to remember in a ministerial office, the Ministers and the teams are making decisions that impact a community, an entire city and sometimes an entire state. So unless you actually go out there and experience it, and see it, you are not the right person to be making those decisions.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to anyone wanting to get into working in politics?
Don’t be sensitive, have a thick skin, stick to your beliefs, but also be willing to change your opinion. You have to be empathetic but strong at the same time.
In a way, politics or being a media advisor, isn’t just standing beside a Minister who’s delivering a message or announcing a project, it’s also thinking about people. In some ways that’s draining, but in other ways it’s probably one of the biggest community services you could ever do. Your decisions could become projects or even potential legislation.
By Sophie Farrugio