This month we interviewed Tony Wragg, Commtractor and Communications Professional with more than 30 years experience in corporate and media communications. A former award-winning newspaper and television journalist, Tony developed his communication skills working for a number of public relations consultancies, businesses, community groups and government departments before establishing his own freelance consultancy in 1990.
1. What skills and experience do you bring to the table as a contractor?
I offer specialist services in business and technical writing, video production and event management. As a former award-winning newspaper and television journalist, I developed my communication skills working for a number of public relations consultancies, businesses, community groups and government departments before establishing my own freelance consultancy in 1990. Since then I have worked across a wide range of industries including education, energy, information technology, retail, property, media, infrastructure, telecommunications, tourism and sport. My most recent projects include two annual reports and a strategy document for the University of NSW and a one year term as Event & Stakeholder Manager for NSW Circular (a NSW Government funded network that helps reduce and reuse waste and enhance sustainability).
2. I got into communications because….
I like working with people and love the idea of simplifying complex messages for targeted audiences – through strategic campaigns, the written word, video production and events. My 10+ years training as a journalist taught me how draw out what is most relevant to my audience and present that information in a succinct and relevant way. That skill translated well to my work in communications.
3. What’s the best thing about being a contractor?
Working for a wide range of clients on projects in different locations (clients’ offices, home, coffee shops etc), learning from people with interesting skills across a variety of industries, working your own hours and choosing when you take a holiday.
4. What have been your favourite projects/engagements/roles/clients?
I have enjoyed pretty much every project I have worked on, but I guess the most rewarding was my time as a consultant for the Sydney 2000 Paralympic Games (1998-2000). My role included project managing most media events and major announcements leading up to the games, website content and producing all the video elements seen at the opening and closing ceremonies. I worked in a small team on what was hailed at the time as the ‘most successful Paralympic Games ever’.
5. You have project managed 12 annual reports. What’s the appeal?
I enjoy the collaborative nature of annual reports – bringing together a wide cross section of stakeholders to tell a connected ‘story’. I have written and project managed reports for clients including EnergyAustralia, the NSW Food Authority and the Sydney Catchment Authority. Most recently, I project managed the 2018 and 2019 (calendar year) annual reports for UNSW Sydney.
6. You started your own consultancy three decades ago, what are some major challenges you faced/lessons learned?
I guess the biggest challenge as a sole trader is keeping the momentum going – always planning ahead to ensure the work is steady. This means looking for your next gig while you are working on another. Business development and setting aside ‘rainy day’ funds for the quiet times are also vital. An ongoing challenge is keeping across new trends and technologies (particularly in the social media/online space).
7. Have you seen any major shifts in communication trends whilst being in the industry?
The emergence of the 24-hour news cycle, the internet (websites, social media, blogs etc) and instant messaging have all changed the style and pace of how we’ve communicated over the past 30-40 years. The ‘always on’, unfiltered nature of the digital world has made it much harder to get your message heard. People are time poor these days. You have to be much more strategic to get ‘cut through’. The tools we use have also changed – from typewriters to computers, fax machines to email, brochures to websites, and landlines to mobile phones.
8. Who is/has been a great mentor to you and why?
I have business colleagues and friends as mentors who, although not well known, have been leading communicators in their field in industries including IT, energy, education and infrastructure.
9. Do you anticipate a shift in how we communicate and the strategies we will use post COVID? If yes, what?
COVID has certainly changed the tools we use to communicate, with a greater emphasis now on video conferencing. Although this technology has been around for a while, my clients have been reluctant to use it – until now. It is now becoming the norm. Not having to travel to face-to-face meetings has made it much easier to bring stakeholders together (at least in my experience). I think this approach will continue (at least to some extent) post-COVID. The crisis has certainly seen the community become increasingly ‘connected’ through technology. Some people are shopping, streaming and banking online for the first time, embracing the internet more than ever. This is likely to open up new opportunities, which will be reflected in post-COVID communication strategies.
At Commtract, we have a wide range of experts across marketing, communications, advertising, writing, public affairs and design. Choose from more than 4000 talented communicators, when you post a project here.
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