STUDENT MEDIA TEAM
How can we enable students at STEM universities to pursue creative endeavors, develop creative skills, and open doors into creative enterprise?
Bespoke Disco Company
Devon Air Ambulance
EDP Drug and Alcohol
Hold it Down
50+ University societies & events
Lack of creative and digital skill development at non-art, STEM universities like the University of Exeter.
No streamlined processes for student societies to access high-quality media content
Creatives on campus are siloed and working independently
Minimal links between students and the local community and small businesses
Bring together all siloed creatives and streamline media requests and production for all student societies.
Build connections and launch projects with local businesses and charities
Enable students to develop creative and digital skills to open doors in the creative industry.
Creative industries growing 3x faster than UK average, contributing to £111.7bn in 2018*
An independent student media agency enabling students to pursue creative endeavors, develop creative skills, and open doors into creative enterprise.
*DCMS Sectors Economic Estimates GVA 2018
The jobs and skills that do not exist today are the ones that will tackle and exceed global challenges; supporting the creative aspirations of students is the driving force for these jobs and skills.
The Student Media Team aims to provide students and young individuals at academic institutions access to a wide range of opportunities and training in creative industries.
Societies & student events benefited
Boost in sports media production
Societies: AGCS, American Football, Amnesty, Artists of Exeter, Athletics Club, Badminton, Basketball Mens’, Basketball Womens’, Big Band, Body Society, Boxing, Canoe, Cheerleading, Climbing, Cool Runnings, EDPSG, ESV, Economics, Fencing, Foniee, Football Mens, Football Womens’, Footlights, Futsal, Golf, Hockey Mens’, Jazz Orchestra, Kickboxing, Mahjong, Medical, Netball, Nightline, PPE, Photography, Riding, Rugby, Sailing, Salsa, ShotGun Theatre, Sports Hall, Students Guild, Swimming, Taekwondo, Tennis, Thai, Theatre Company, Trampoline, Water Polo
Events: Sister Sounds, Hold it Down, Hijacked, Poltimore Festival, The Showcase, BB Bar Rush, AU Dinner 2019, AU Colours and Awards 2019, Guild Society Awards 2019
Clients: Aerobility, Aerosparks, Bespoke Disco Company, BUCS, Devon Air Ambulance, EDP Drug and Alcohol, Hatless Studios, Hold it Down, Poltimore Festival, WPA
Athletics Union Elections
At the end of my first year of university, I ran and was elected to be the Athletics Union Media and Marketing Executive, overseeing marketing and content production for all 50 sports on campus.
Athletics Union Media Team
After interviewing and speaking with key stakeholders and athletes, I was able to position and launch a centralised source for sports media requests. I brought on board several student content creators to join the team. Our onboarding video can be seen above.
Establishing a reputation & rebranding
Having worked with the majority of sports clubs on campus, establishing a solid reputation across all sports, and growing the team to 20, we started getting the attention of the Student Guild. We recognized an opportunity to expand our services to Guild Societies, and rebranded as the Student Media Team.
We partnered with aviation company Aerosparx to produce content for the charity Aerobility, enabling people with disabilities to fly an aeroplane. We also worked with other charities like the EDP Drug & Alcohol Services on a graphic design capacity.
Focus Pivot – Pandemic & Lockdowns
Due to the lockdowns, university society requests came to a halt. We immediately decided to pivot towards large-scale independent projects that were pro-bono instead of individual client and society gigs, with the new aim of building skills and opening doors for students to enter the creative industry.
Our year-long plan envisioned:
An advertising campaign for a local charity
A short film incubator
A global creative careers event
Film Incubator & Devon Air Ambulance
We successfully pitched and secured the Devon Air Ambulance as our client and project partner for the advertising campaign.
We also decided upon a student-submitted screenplay for the film incubator and started the audition process. This was also when the planning for the Creative Careers Conference began.
Film Incubator & Devon Air Ambulance Part 2
We wrapped up the Devon Air Ambulance campaign and began the pre-production phase of the short film "Ascent".
Ascent & Creative Careers Conference
We began filming "Ascent" and preparing the conference.
Ascent & Creative Careers Conference Part 2
The Creative Careers Conference went live on April 15th, 2021. At the same time, we continued the production of "Ascent".
Ascent & Handover
Ascent concluded its production and we initiated the handover process to the new committee.
We prepared an exit pitch to the University of Exeter. They were not interested in a partnership. We, of course, ramped up operations in response.
Student Media Agency Model
This idea was an iteration based on a similar, smaller-scale concept I built in high school when I founded the Graphic Design Club at the International School of Bangkok in 2016 – bringing together creatives under one umbrella, serving as the single point of contact for any society needing media production.
A similar need and gap in the market were identified when I first got to the University of Exeter in 2018, and I immediately built networks and a reputation to put myself in a position to launch the initiative at the end of my first year. I quickly established myself as a leader in content production, becoming the go-to for media, aiding my candidacy for Athletics Union Media Executive.
For universities, this was an extension of user (student) generated content, with iterative improvements through the creative community and mentorship that the media team provided.
This also increased payment transparency for creatives, ensuring that they got paid a fair amount by societies, and that societies knew what quality of deliverables they could expect by booking talent from the team.
This model would eventually expand to bring in local businesses and charities, opening up new routes of collaboration and fostering connections with the surrounding Exeter community.
To bypass the university's restrictions on student societies, we decided to abstain from becoming a society ourselves, and became an independent student group. The benefits of this included autonomy and the ability for students to make money from their creative work. However, this meant more friction and effort to fully integrate the Media Team framework into the University and to get buy-in from societies.
How the Media Team operated, from onboardings to reacting to the covid lockdowns.
By the end of my first year, I had already started to establish a reputation among athletes and creatives. I had met a few like-minded, ambitious creatives to help kickstart the Athletics Union Media Team. To onboard even more creatives, I initially set up an application form and posted it on the university's Facebook page.
By 2020, we had accumulated the majority of students who were interested in media production and photography.
We set up a standardised Google Form where any society or sports club can request media content. This was linked to a Facebook Group through a Zapier integration where members could comment on their interest in taking a society brief.
Members were allocated based on:
How many events they have already shot
When they commented
This was to ensure that the right person took on the client brief and that no one member was taking on all the briefs. If all else was equal, it was given to the member who commented first.
March 2020 onwards, we realised that our previous model of providing media content for societies and local businesses was no longer viable. The University imposed a ban on all student events and activities.
Our decision to abstain from becoming an official student society paid off, enabling some of our members to work with aerobatics company Aerosparx and charity Aerobility during the height of the lockdown, producing impactful content while travelling across the UK.
It was an emotional and humbling experience leading my team to tell the stories of this small charity enabling people with disabilities to fly an aeroplane – an opportunity only possible by building this initiative from scratch.
Little did I know that things were going to get even more interesting.
Our exit strategy was to become an in-house, student-led media agency at our university. This merger into a university would help accomplish:
Prior to the Media Team, the university had no high-quality video content of societies or sports since 2017. We offered quality media and marketing content covering a diverse range of societies and student activities.
Democratising content, enabling nice passion societies – like D&D – with small budgets to also have high-quality media. This would boost the public image of the university, improving the desirability for prospective applicants.
Accelerating the University of Exeter Arts & Culture Mission and Strategy by continuing to grow our already existing (and the largest) creative community on campus.
Building networks and partnerships between students and the local community – something that was not accessible prior to the Media Team.
Access to high-quality media at a fraction of the cost of hiring a typical media production studio.
The merger proposed Media Team members going on the university payroll, being paid out of an allocated Media Team budget. The spreadsheet below depicts what the cost to the university would be to subsidize the media production, and what it would be compared to hiring an external production company.
Unfortunately, this proposal was rejected – despite our goals being focused on providing students with previously inaccessible opportunities and opening doors into the creative industry.
Naturally, we decided it was time to go bigger and bolder!
Subsequently, we successfully launched an OOH advertising campaign with the Devon Air Ambulance, hosted a global creative careers conference featuring directors from Ogilvy and the APAC/Canada regional president of AT&T, and produced a stand-out short film from scratch.
Extremely proud of the team and students involved, showing that student ambition triumphs!
OH HELLO, CREATIVE INDUSTRY
Opening doors for students at our STEM-based university to land roles in the creative industry (advertising, drama & film).
Advertising students at advertising universities lack real-life client experience. To set our students apart, we sought to only work on real-life client projects. We ended up producing an OOH advert for a local charity from scratch, bringing together global creative student talent from Canada and the UK.
Our university had limited events geared towards the creative industries. Instead of waiting around, we saw an opportunity to launch one ourselves and make it global. The Creative Careers Conference was born, bringing attendees and speakers from 14 countries across 5 continents, featuring the APAC/Canada Regional President of AT&T, the Consulting Director of Ogilvy, and award-winning filmmakers from the USA and UK.
We launched a "Film Incubator", for students to submit screenplays and for the media team to create a film that held its ground against productions from proper film schools. This film helped our cast and crew progress their careers, from getting involved with Netflix's Witcher, joining several production companies, and landing a spot in a top drama postgraduate course.
Upskilling students and building digital skills
We hosted workshops throughout the two years to help students build creative and digital skills. We also had more experienced members mentor and teach newcomers to their respective fields.
Workshops I ran included Photoshop (below), social media, and event photography (right, pre-covid). We also organised a Photoshop workshop with Exeter City Football Club but was cancelled due to the pandemic and furloughs.
Fulfilling the entrepreneurial drive despite visa restrictions
As I am on the Student Visa, I was not able to be truly entrepreneurial and start a proper business – not legally able to be self-employed or engage in business activity.
I found the next best thing – launching a student media agency – while still being within the restrictions of my visa, still involving all the challenges and overall rollercoaster ride of running a business from scratch.
I hope to continue stretching my entrepreneurial drive in my career moving forwards.