David Taylor is the Director of Privacy Awareness for the Office of the Victorian Privacy Commissioner. Privacy Victoria will be hosting their one day national conference ‘Watch this Space: Children, young people and privacy’ on 21 May 2010 in Melbourne, MC’d by children’s ambassador Noni Hazlehurst. The program includes leading cybersafety experts, educators and those dealing with the privacy issues facing young people to address protecting the privacy of children and youth in a rapidly changing physical and cyber-world.

Tell us about your typical day in communications?

It starts over breakfast, reading The Age and watching the Today Show, and continues on the train deleting junk emails from my BlackBerry. At the office it’s the usual email checking, especially any media items of interest or concern, then working my way through any number of projects that I need to juggle. These might be event management, working with colleagues interstate and overseas on joint promotional initiatives, editing articles and publications, preparing a media release, managing a small but terrific team etc etc.

When did you first know you wanted to work in communications?

When I was in secondary school I had a job as a Copy Boy at Southdown Press (who published New Idea and TV Week amongst others). An editor there told me that I would make a good journalist because I was always asking questions and had an insatiable curiosity about everything that went on! Then she told me to get back to counting votes for the TV Week Logies.

Who’s your communication hero/mentor?

Angela Scaffidi from Scaffidihughjones and Alicia Patterson from House Communications are two colleagues whose professional advice and support I couldn’t do without. Internationally, I am still impressed about the way that the Whitehouse has harnessed the power of social media to push President Obama’s agenda and with its localised and personalised targeting. Perhaps the tyranny of distance plays a part but it seems less contrived than the local varieties.

Which tools can’t you live without?

Curiosity , technology, my iMac and my digital SLR.

What are the biggest challenges in your role?

As a very small government agency with statewide responsibilities we have the continuing challenge of trying to do a lot with a very small budget. This means thinking creatively and operating strategically. The most important part of my role is relationship management. As a small child my much older brother told me “it’s not what you know but who you know” and this is definitely the case.

Tell us about the best campaign you’ve ever worked on?

The introduction of the Information Privacy Act in 2002 and introducing an annual Privacy Awareness Week (which is now held across the Asia Pacific) was the best in terms of the diversity of activity – it had it all, from public sector training to research and statewide advertising, to sponsoring a summer swimwear parade and the toilets at a Big Day Out. I was also pleased to have a role in the introduction of smoke-free dining in Victoria.

Which campaign do you most admire?

Locally it is campaigns that keep it simple, with memorable tag lines e.g. TAC and the Yellow Pages, and campaigns which seize the day e.g. the No more bush advertisement run on the day of Obama’s inauguration. Internationally it was Obama’s election campaign.

What’s been the biggest change to communication/marketing/public relations since you began your career?

With today’s technology, almost everyone is a communicator, marketer and in PR for “brand me”, whether we consciously think about it or not. Trying to keep up with the pace of change can be a little daunting but is also energising and inspiring.

If you had to cut/keep something in your communication budget, what would it be?

What budget? Seriously, your best investment is your people.

What quality do you look for in your communication team members?

Professionalism, the ability to think outside the square, commitment, team spirit and a good sense of humour.

What’s your favourite brand?

To be consistent, I’d have to say brand Obama, still.

What book/blog do you think every communicator should read?

The dictionary. Correct spelling and grammar is still essential.

What tips do you wish you’d known starting out in communications?

Nothing beats preparation and rehearsal.

Finish this sentence: ‘Communication is…’

… our bread and butter.

Watch this space: Children, young people and privacy:

To be opened by Attorney General, Rob Hulls, the one day conference includes presentations from more than 25 leading experts in privacy regulation, law, education, cybersafety, media, youth work, health and sexuality. For full conference information, please visit: http://www.privacy.vic.gov.au/privacy/web.nsf/content/conferences.