A day in the Life of… Kiri Walden, Communications Officer at Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science

My day starts with the nursery run, dropping my kids off before I catch the train to Oxford. Being a working parent of young kids can be hard work, but it helps that the Department of Computer Science is very family friendly, with lots of colleagues in the same boat.

Once I have my first coffee of the day in hand, I sit down to read my emails. One of the things I really enjoy about my job is that I never quite know what the day will bring. My email in-box will often include a few potential news stories. Computer Science is a hot topic at the moment and from a news point of view we are very busy.

Sometimes a news story will lead to journalists contacting our academics for expert comments. A recent example was when British Airways passenger records were hacked and The Times printed comments from Professor Daniel Kroening.

For news, I find Talkwalker alerts and Google alerts very useful, because academics are not always great at remembering to tell me what they have been up to! I tend to write news stories rather than Press Releases. Once a news story is written and uploaded to our website I link to it with posts on our social media pages. This is a good way of encouraging people to have a closer look at the work of the Department.

I also do a fair bit of re-tweeting or sharing of posts. It’s an easy thing to do that helps out communications/PR colleagues and if I ever need to give my social media posts a bit of a boost I know I can count on similar support.

Once the news side of my job is done I have a look at the longer-term projects I’m working on. Depending on the time of year this might be commissioning, writing or editing copy for our Department newsletter, Inspired Research, or trying to find academics who might like to speak at a festival, and then talking to festival organisers to get them booked. These are both useful ways to communicate information about our research to the wider public.

In the afternoon I often attend meetings with communications colleagues to talk through divisional or University-wide PR projects. I like the fact that in my job I have some autonomy in my own Department but I’m also part of an exciting communications community within the University as a whole.

I leave the building at about 5, and I don’t take my work home with me. With a 1yr old and a 4yr old waiting to tell me about their day, there’s no point!

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