Bob tells us about his role as Communications Manager and Deputy Head of Communications, and his favourite Christmas traditions.

Tell us about your role at the University.

My role consists of drafting communications to staff and students, writing press releases, responding to media enquiries, drafting content for our website and social media channels, and a fair bit more besides!  This year our team has been heavily focused on internal communications and keeping our community informed of everything they need to know as we navigate our way through the pandemic.  Like every other team across the University I think we’ve done a good job in testing circumstances, but it has left us with far less time to dig out good news stories which is our bread and butter - so if you have any exciting news please get in touch! 

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

I trained as a journalist and still consider myself one by vocation, so my favourite thing to do is find great news stories from across the University and tell people about them via the media.  My colleague Jo Milne set the bar high for all of us this week, with her press release on the discovery of a 5,000-year-old artefact from an ancient Egyptian pyramid in the University’s Asia collection – the story was picked up across the world, and was among the top 10 most read on the BBC website. Tough act to follow!  The content can vary hugely, such is the breadth of activity across the University.  The last press release I issued was about a donation of Christmas trees to a group in Aberdeen that supports young people in care – prior to that it was about some very interesting work led by Brice Rea and Matteo Spagnolo in Geosciences, who have studied glaciers to determine how the weather behaved in Europe 12,000 years ago.  As I said, varied!  As a reporter, especially in local newspapers where I started out (hello any Fife Free Press or Falkirk Herald readers out there) you are given a ‘patch’ to cover which could be a geographic area, or possibly covering sport or the local courts.  The University is one of the busiest patches I’ve ever had to cover, and certainly the most interesting.

How will you relax over the winter break?

I’m looking forward to spending time with my wife and son. He’s five and pretty lively so he keeps us on our toes. But like everyone else I’m just looking forward to some down time, or as much as I can reasonably expect to get. The extra days off are very welcome. I hope everyone has a relaxing time off because we all deserve it.

If you were Santa Claus for one day, what would you do?

I think I’d do all of the obvious things that I think anyone would do right now, using all the available powers at my disposal.  That’s a politician’s answer isn’t it?  So all I’ve really done is prove that I’d make a very bad Santa…

What are your favourite Christmas traditions?

Aside from all the usual ones, I always look forward to finding out what’s going to be my favourite Christmas song, which will invariably change from year to year.  This year’s winner is ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’ by Greg Lake.  I’ve no idea why, but it seems to have struck a chord with me this year.  My favourite Christmas film is steadfastly Home Alone, and it would take something very special to change that – I introduced it to my son last weekend, but he only seemed to be interested in the violence. Which to be fair are the funniest bits, albeit I’m not advocating the misuse of blowtorches.

What are your resolutions for the new year?

I’ll keep my own counsel on that, I can’t face the shame of admitting that I’ve failed on them all come the end of January.