Communicating with care
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Communication during and after the Christchurch terror attacks
On 15 March 2019, the Al Noor Mosque and the Linwood Islamic Centre were attacked by a gunman. The attacks killed 51 people and injured 49 others, making it the deadliest mass shooting in New Zealand history.
The response saw significant communications resources mobilised across several different organisations. In this session, you’ll hear from professionals from three agencies who played very different communication roles during the event.
Jocelyn Ritchie, Media Manager, Christchurch City Council
I’ve worked in the media industry for 35 years. I started out as a Director’s Assistant in the South Island News bureau for TV 1, moving in to production management of local programming before having two of my children. With two toddlers in tow, I decided to do the post-graduate Diploma in Journalism at Canterbury University before taking up a full-time role as a news and features report for 3 News. A few years in to the role I discovered I was pregnant with my third child, at which point my husband and I set up our own television production company. I spent the next 10-15 years helping run the company while at the same time freelancing for Sky Sport in the South Island. Moving on a few years and less the husband, I worked for Chambers PR before taking up the role as media manager for Christchurch City Council. I started working for the Council just after the February 2011 earthquake and it’s been fairly full-on ever since!
I love my role – no two days are ever the same, the people I work with are stunning and it is still challenging after eight years with the organisation. I enjoy the fast pace of the role and I come in to contact with so many interesting and diverse people.
If I have any spare time I try to keep myself fit whether it’s a jog around Hagley Park, a session at the gym or a walk up Rapaki. I quite enjoy getting in the kitchen and cooking up a storm for friends and family while supping on a lovely glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir. I’m also a bit of sports nut, so Sky Sport is often on in our lounge!
Kelly Mitchell, Media Relations Team Leader, New Zealand Police
I have worked in media and communications for over 20 years starting first in journalism working in community newspapers.
For the past 10 years I have worked in a range of communications roles across a variety of government agencies.
I joined Police in 2016 when the national Media Centre was established and am now Team Leader of our Wellington team based at Police National Headquarters.
The National Media Centre operates seven days a week and responds to on average over 700 media inquiries a week.
The response to the 15 March Christchurch Terror Attacks was unprecedented for the country and for Police. In the immediate hours and days after the attacks the focus was on releasing information in a timely fashion with a focus on public reassurance.
Karalyn is responsible for the TransAlpine Communications team, which covers both the Canterbury and West Coast regions. The team interacts with the media and the public, and keeps the combined DHBs’ 11000+ staff informed of what’s going on in the DHB. We also serve a diverse population of more than 600,000 people throughout Canterbury, The West Coast and the Chatham Islands.
The Communications team is responsible for external and internal communications, including stakeholder engagement, publications, health campaigns, crisis management, government relations and events.
Karalyn has been in this role since 2011 – she started with Canterbury DHB ten days before the devastating February 2011 earthquake. Prior to that she was a senior advisor at the Ministry of Health. She has also worked at Hawke’s Bay District Health Board and the office of the Minister of Health. She’s worked as a consultant for NetworkPR in Wellington and been a self-employed Communications Consultant. Karalyn is a member of the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand and International Association of Business Communicators.
Jeanie Watson, Senior Communications Advisor, Canterbury District Health Board
Jeanie joined Canterbury District Health Board in mid-2018 and is responsible for a broad range of internal and external communications. She has a particular interest in health, loves the variety of her role and enjoys working with a great bunch of like-minded and passionate people.
She moved across the ditch in 2016, initially working for the Ministry of Health as a senior stakeholder advisor.
Previously, Jeanie has worked for a range of organisations, including not-for-profit, government, industry associations and cultural institutions, including Breast Cancer Network Australia, the Department of Human Services, Housing Industry Association, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia.
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