What does a comms and engagement agency actually do?

In this feature, we take a look inside the working lives of people whose job titles often warrant the question: 'but what do you actually do?' This week, we speak to Julie Castle, Struber's managing director.

What does a communications and engagement agency actually do?

It’s our job to win the hearts and minds of communities and help people feel the benefits of infrastructure projects – planned and built by governments and private companies.

We work exclusively within the infrastructure, construction, government, resource and energy sectors, to help them communicate, engage and market projects. From consulting with communities, involving small business, reducing interruptions and improving communication, to introducing thoughtful community initiatives and sharing innovation with partner businesses; we are brought on to make big projects memorable for the right reasons.

What does a good working day look like?

Kicking off with yoga, catching public transport (I love trains and trams), video hook ups with our global team, and meeting with our clients to discuss projects – from trains and roads, to hospitals. We are their ambassadors for change to cater for the future needs of populations and economies through transport, facilities and infrastructure.

Then I connect with our teams to come up with great initiatives which help infrastructure businesses use their positions to solve problems and meet the needs of the communities they operate in. For example, collaborating with social enterprises to deliver services for a project like landscaping, notification distribution or education programs.

Each day ends with reading my gorgeous five-year-old daughter books. Then stretching, reading and meditation. Or on a tough day, wine and a Netflix binge.

What’s the most difficult part of your job?

Getting people to think about how much influence they have over decision makers and the way way our cities are changing. Plus, convincing people to believe in future transport (like driverless transport) and do things for future populations and economies.

What are your KPIs and how do you ensure you meet them?

Communications and engagement should be paid forward, clients need to invest to avoid damaging their social license.

We are all about making connections and helping our clients use their position to solve problems and meet needs in the communities that they operate in.

By listening and mediating well, we can help clients avoid delays on major infrastructure projects, and our marketing communications work promotes measurable positive engagement.

What’s your favourite part of your role?

Working on projects that will shape the future and thinking through the lens of lots of different people. I love specialising in infrastructure because it leaves a physical legacy.

The challenge for me is getting people to understand and participate in the positive opportunity around that physical asset. So we help our clients create lasting, positive impacts on communities by forging strong human connections through innovative and thoughtful collaborative initiatives.

How does your role keep you on your toes?

Constantly looking at different ways to do things, questioning processes, and seeing how technology can improve efficiencies and outcomes. We look beyond what we do to other industries and think about how it could apply. Digital communication has changed where, when, and how people want to engage. The challenge for communications and engagement agencies is to reach people through various channels in a way that matters to them.

Traditionally our industry has teams of people wearing hi-vis vests, pounding the pavement with clipboards and calling that community engagement. But that doesn’t cut it.

We find where people trust and go to those places and use the best methods to communicate and engage. For us that can include virtual reality, digital marketing, media relations, business consultation, traditional marketing and online marketing, and more.

What makes a good communications and engagement agency?

Passion. Life is too short not to love what you do so you need to work with people who are committed to making your strategy take flight.

Julie Castle is the managing director at Struber.


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