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A look back: Olivia’s ten years at WRENmedia

Updated: Nov 30, 2018

As WRENmedia prepares for Olivia Frost to go on maternity leave, we sat down with her to discuss what has changed in the communications industry over the last decade and what it was like starting out with the company. We share some of her highlights of marking ten years with WRENmedia!

Olivia working at an 'AgriGender' workshop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 2011 © ILRI/Apollo Habtamu

What brought you to WRENmedia in 2008 and how did you find the job at first?

I have spent the majority of my life living on a farm in Norfolk which has given me a broad understanding of the agriculture sector, and I have also had the privilege of living and working in Kenya and Uganda which fuelled my passion for international development.

After completing an MA in International Development, I undertook an internship with Justice Africa before working three days a week for the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD). I joined WRENmedia in 2008, working two days a week as an office assistant. I was soon writing for WRENmedia’s online magazine, New Agriculturist, and after a year, in 2009, I was offered a full-time position. My BA in History and my MA in International Development meant that I was already able to write well and understand some of the topics WRENmedia covered. The learning curve was still steep, and it felt like jumping in at the deep end, but I loved the research aspects that were involved with the job and, ten years later, I am still enjoying it.

How has the company changed over the last ten years?

The communications industry has changed dramatically over the last ten years. When we were producing New Agriculturist (from 1998), although it was an online magazine, each year we would send all of the website’s content on CDs to people across Africa and Asia who were not connected to the internet. We also used to produce a lot of radio programmes for small-scale farmers and those too were sent out on first cassettes and then CDs to radio stations across Africa. As the industry has changed, so has WRENmedia and because of this, our target audiences have also changed. Previously we targeted extension workers and those who worked with farmers. With the explosion of internet connections around the world, we are now able to target the farmers themselves, who can access our work from a plethora of different devices.

And what part of the job never seems to change?

We have always been a small team that works well together and we share the work load evenly. Our different strengths and weaknesses all play a part in helping us to pull together in the same direction. That is why, as I prepare to go on maternity leave, I am confident that everything will continue to go smoothly and everyone will comfortably step into my shoes whilst I am away.

The heart of what we do is communications for agricultural science. The methods of dissemination change but we always focus on getting the right messages to those who are interested. This has always been the objective of WRENmedia, whether, in the past when we were producing radio for the BBC World Service or now when we produce more online, social media-friendly content. There are always new things to write about, new technology to promote and new people to write with. We always adapt ourselves to our client’s needs.

What are the stand-out memories from your time at WRENmedia?

In my first six months on the job I ruined an expensive recording device in my washing machine after I returned from a trip. Another time on overseas work abroad, it took me 24 hours to get home rather than eight hours. My direct flight back to London from Ethiopia was cancelled and so I had to go via Kenya, Djibouti and the Netherlands. However, the moments that truly stand out are not what has gone wrong but what has gone right. Working for WRENmedia has given me the chance to visit some amazing places and to meet people who are dealing with some of the biggest challenges this world faces. Meeting these people, writing about them and telling their stories has been extremely fulfilling.

Alex Miller

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