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Penny Syddall – journalist and communications specialist

Penny Syddall, BU alumnaSince completing her first degree in psychology, Penny Syddall went on to forge a successful career as a newspaper journalist.

She honed her craft covering a busy news patch in Dorset until the birth of her first child prompted Penny to consider a change of direction. She said: “Journalism is a fantastic career but it does require you to work irregular hours, which becomes more challenging when you have a young family.”

Penny discovered that having built up contacts with various local organisations during her reporting career, she was in demand to provide PR and writing services. She soon took up a communications manager role at North Dorset District Council and then moved onto Dorset Wildlife Trust, which became her first steps in a new career in public sector PR.

Penny said: “I arrived at Dorset Wildlife Trust with skills in writing and journalism, but was soon being asked to get involved in much broader communications activities. Social media was taking off and the organisation also needed someone who could write and co-ordinate marketing materials and website content. I decided to develop my knowledge and skills by returning to university and discovered the MA Corporate Communications at Bournemouth University, which was well regarded and offered the variety I needed.”

Typically a one-year, full-time course, Penny was able to study the MA part-time over four years, which enabled her to continue working and looking after her children. She said: “It was a particularly good course and the benefit of working while studying was that I could apply the theoretical concepts I was learning to practical examples in the workplace. I emerged with a much greater understanding of the value of communications in helping organisations to connect with their publics.”

Since graduating from her Masters in 2004, Penny has used her skills to lead the communications behind major local authority projects. She is currently communications team leader for Superfast Dorset, a £40m initiative which has already provided fast and reliable broadband access to 80,000 homes and businesses.0020

Throughout her career, Penny has been keen to use her experiences to develop the skills of new entrants to the industry. She has taken on five BU placement students over the last four years, which brings fresh insights to her team’s work. Penny said: “It is always good to get a new perspective on what you are doing. We ask each of our placement students to revisit our social media strategy, as they have an inherent understanding of how we can improve our approaches. In return, they get opportunities to be part of the full range of communications activities and to experience working for a large, public sector organisation.”

If you are interested in offering a placement to a BU student, please let us know by completing our online form.

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