Our communications intern Torr Robinson shares a bit about what drew them to a career in communications and what they’ve learned from their internship at the Trust.
Before joining the Trust …
My background is mainly in grassroots political campaigns, and generally making a lot of noise as inconveniently as possible for those in power. I’ve been particularly involved in disability and LGBT+ liberation work, and I’ve seen first hand how disabled people, and recently trans people, have been portrayed by the media.
My interest in comms really came from seeing the false narratives that are propagated in the media around inequality and social justice, and wanting to push back at them through building solidarity instead. Over time I got some practical experience of comms through my grassroots work, and ran one campaign which hit the mainstream press and put me in the middle of it with journalists and presenters showing up in my inbox.
That gave a me a sense of how exciting, intense and complex comms can be, and pushed me to learn more about how to make the best decisions about what you say and how you say it. I’ve also been lucky enough to have some of my writing published, which has been a more relaxed but equally useful exercise in communication.
My interest in comms really came from seeing the false narratives that are propagated in the media around inequality and social justice, and wanting to push back at them through building solidarity instead.
My daily duties …
One of the great things about this role is how many different things you have the opportunity to do and the space you have to drive your own agenda. Some days you might be out at an event, taking pictures, live-tweeting and shooting videos; other days you might be writing or editing an article, and other days you could be doing some workshops around strategic comms, tone of voice or design work.
When I’m not doing any of the above though, I tend to focus on keeping track of our external channels: social media, our website, and our newsletter. This means scanning Twitter or LinkedIn for any content or news which we might want to highlight, and making sure the website stays updated with publications, articles and information from the Trust or our grantees. In the process, I’ll be taking note of anything to be included in the newsletter at the end of the month, or to be followed up on for future comms planning.
I’ve also had the freedom to work a lot on content creation, either around interesting things that come up above, or by developing original content to help drive the conversation. I think it’s really important to have a sense of agency in comms and to be proactive about what you want to talk about, and original content is how you do that! Video is a great medium for this kind of work because of how accessible and engaging it can be, so I love to do video editing whenever I have the chance.
Aside from all that, I find it’s always good to have a bit of time set aside to handle anything else that comes up. You never really know what might happen next in comms, and you could have to respond to something you didn’t foresee or turn around some time-sensitive content quickly, so I try not to get too attached to my planner and be ready to embrace whatever the day brings.
One of the great things about this role is how many different things you have the opportunity to do and the space you have to drive your own agenda.
I’m passionate about …
I’ve always been focused on inequality, social justice and the fundamental right of everyone to live a good and decent life. I’ve never felt it was an acceptable state of human affairs for some to have so much while others can barely get by, and it has always angered me that so many have had to live their life in struggle, never knowing the art, love and beauty that life can offer. Disability rights and trans rights are also close to my heart, as I have experienced disablist and transphobic discrimination personally.
But I think it’s critical to see how all these struggles are shared. The rising inequality in the UK is fuelled by a shrinking welfare system and the fear of many that they need to push others out to retain what little remains – and it is this fear which in turn has driven the rising disablism and latterly the enormous spike of transphobia, further enabled by a complicit media. When you see things this way you understand that solidarity is the only way to fight back, which is why it is so important to me. Naturally, I’m also concerned with our right to resist, which comes through the right to protest and take political action free of state interference and obstruction.
Something unexpected I learned …
It is much harder to find content than you might think! I used to imagine that working in comms meant everyone would come begging you to highlight whatever they were working on, but it turns out to be the opposite - most of the time you are the one asking others if they have anything going on that you can talk about! It’s really just a testament to how fast-paced and exciting comms can be though, since you always have your eyes forward looking for what’s next.
In two years from now find me …
I’ve never been good with long-term plans, but as for what I’ll be doing next I hope to be involved with more out in the field hands-on campaigning, opposing inequality wherever I can be most effective. But whatever I do next, I’ll have been lucky to enjoy the amazing experience the Trust has given me the past year, with the enormous new toolkit of skills I’ll take away from it and everything I’ve learned from the brilliant people I’ve met here. I’ll definitely miss it, but whoever becomes the next intern (if you’re still thinking about applying, just do it!) will have a great adventure ahead, and I know they’ll come away with the same sense of growth and appreciation that I have.
17 May 2022