Written by Taylah Daviss
As we reflect on Brisbane Media Map finishing its final year on offer for media and communication students, it is clear that over the last 20 years one thing hasn’t changed – the unique community you become a part of. I recently had the pleasure of talking to Ella Chorazy, a student of Brisbane Media Map in 2009, and later a tutor and unit coordinator. What emerged from our conversation was despite the changes in the website and mapping process itself, our experiences of the unit weren’t all that different.
When Ella took the unit as a student in 2009, the purpose of the website was still to map the everchanging Brisbane media and communication industry. Students did the hard yards, searching through phone books and literally walking the streets of Brisbane to talk to professionals and make connections. While a strong collaborative element existed, it was somewhat messy and there was a clear lack of structure when it came to communication. Smaller teams worked in silos to create their content, and just hoped everything would fit together nicely in the end – and this wasn’t always the case.
When Ella’s time came to teach the unit, this is what she saw as important to correct. She explains that not all students realise “reputation is built on the quality of work you deliver and the way you conduct yourself in a professional environment”. Given the fact that Brisbane Media Map is a capstone unit designed to prepare students to enter the workforce, it was necessary that the unit ran similarly to a real organisation. Ella worked to establish the defined organisational structure and group selection process that became an essential component of the BMM unit. This period of time saw the introduction of separate internal and external communication teams, developing a clear communication process which became integral to the success of later iterations of the unit.
The transferable skills learned from BMM such as teamwork and project management are of great value to students, but Ella believes the true value of BMM is the community that develops through student collaboration. Ella’s graduating cohort were already a close-knit group prior to studying BMM, but through her time teaching she realised this wasn’t the case for all cohorts. Ella explains that “your social network in university is ultimately your first professional network” and for many media and communication students, including myself, it was BMM that gave us this opportunity to bond with each other and develop this network.
After 20 years, the question still remains of whether concept of media mapping is relevant in today’s media and communication industry. Ella says the answer is both yes and no. Given the existence of big data and google, the literal mapping and database components of BMM are outdated. It is still important for students to be able to visually and conceptually picture the way different organisations are connected, however considering the continued breakdown of geographical boundaries and the increase of online organisations, a map of Brisbane alone is becoming significantly less relevant.
Students nearing graduation need to be prepared to enter an everchanging industry. The lines between communication disciplines such as public relations and advertising are becoming increasingly blurred but at the end of the day it is all just strategic communication. According to Ella “you may pitch yourself in a certain way to get a certain job, but when it comes to doing the job there is so much overlap – it’s important to think of yourself as a strategic communicator”. This is why units like BMM are so important; they provide students with the transferable skills to be able to work in different disciplines and help them develop the professional connections that may just get them a job one day.
While this unit, and university for myself and many of my teammates will conclude in just a few short weeks, I know we’ll stay connected and continue to use the variety of skills developed during our time with Brisbane Media Map.