Tracy Hutchinson Wallace
Here’s the latest installment (and our first international edition!) in our series on the “Day in the Life” of nonprofit communicators, where we ask you to describe your day in your own words.
Tracy Hutchinson Wallace is the Communications Officer for Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago, an affiliate to the international organization battling poverty housing worldwide. With varied experience in television production for the private sector and in corporate communications for government, she finally found her “place in the sun” working within the NGO community. She satisfies her passion for France and all things French by leading the Board of the local Alliance Française, and her life as a nonprofit communicator is about to get more hectic with the imminent arrival of her “Third Mousquetaire,” joining his older brother and father in their francophone / francophile family.
Here is her typical day:
Before 8:00 am: Up at 5 am and out of the House by 5:30 … I usually get into work very early (before 6 am!!!) so that I can sort out any new HootSuite scheduled posts (to add to those I programme at the beginning of the month), update the website and check through emails before the rest of the team gets into the office. Necessary, because I simply won’t have the time to do this later in the day!
Today is a typical day for Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago … meeting of the Capital Campaign Cabinet in the morning, handing over a newly-painted house to one of our homepartners in the early afternoon, and then the closing ceremony for computer training at a Computer Centre we built in one of our Habitat Communities. It’s a busy one for me because I have two media events falling on the same day; usually I only have one a week.
8:00 am – 10:00 am: I write best early in the day, so this is when I write articles, produce press releases, update our outreach materials (organisation profiles, homepartner features, FAQs etc.), create presentations and write speeches. Today, I also have to send out reminder emails to the media about the house dedication and computer training, before heading out to the Campaign Cabinet Meeting. It’s a 45 minute ride by taxi and minibus, so I’ll take the opportunity to review my notes for the meeting and read a good book. Thank God for tablet computers – I’ve got Evernote for work and Amazon for my downtime!
10:00 am – 12:00 pm: Brainstorming session with our major fundraisers – we are raising USD 6 Million over five years to build our ReStore and Training Centre, so there are a lot of promotional ideas to sort through! Habitat Trinidad and Tobago is lucky to have a very dynamic Chairman and National Director leading our strategic and operational teams … of course this means that life is very hectic, but on the upside, our meetings are always productive and we get a lot done in a short time!
Lunch is usually at my desk, and that’s when I catch up on communications tips and trends from blogs and websites around the world. Today is no exception, I’ve found a really great post on getting young people enthused about humanitarian causes that can be successfully adapted to our cultural context! It is important for me not to try to re-invent the wheel, ’cause I am the only Communications person in Habitat, and I have to be very strategic in how I spend my time.
12:00 am – 2:00 pm: I often prepare event or meeting materials in the afternoon – printing flyers and programmes, preparing meeting documents and minutes, stuffing media packs, labeling branded items for distribution to guests. Today’s items are ready to go, I just have to pack them into the pickup to head to Central Trinidad.
Some days, I have Skype or other online meetings with donors or with Habitat Latin America/Caribbean, or I might sit in on a meeting of the Construction or Community Development Department, just to get advanced notice of possible upcoming events or PR opportunities. This keeps me a little ahead of the game. I suppose most people would just work from the meeting minutes, but if I am in on the initial planning, I can sometimes guide the team in the direction I need to maximise public impact.
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm: During today’s Dedication and Closing Ceremonies, I upload photos to Facebook and Twitter. During travel time, I continue with my usual afternoon routine … sorting and editing photos from previous events for upload to our social media channels, and archiving work for our photo and video bank. This is the time when requests come in from our Grant Writer and Resource Development Officer for photos to include in donor reports, or from media for extra images for their articles. Or else, I might have a photo shoot with a Global Village Team on a construction site … I try to do a lot of physical stuff in the afternoons, away from my desk, which helps keep me active in what would otherwise be a very sedentary job.
After 4:00 pm: I do not take work home … I have a husband and a young son who haven’t seen me since yesterday (’cause I left for work before they woke up), so doing anything at all, even on my smartphone, simply isn’t on! So, the last hour or ninety minutes of the day is strictly prep time for tomorrow morning – meeting notes, story or script ideas, clipping web information and photos for our outreach materials, updating my running to-do list. As I step out the door (between 5 and 6 pm), I switch off of work almost completely. I might look at emails, especially if a crisis might be brewing, but I generally will not respond until the next day. It’s the only way to stay sane in this business!
I don’t mind working from home, but try to avoid it if I can. If I absolutely have to, I prefer to work at home on a Saturday or Sunday, rather than a weekday night. My productivity on a Sunday afternoon after yoga and/or a walk in the sun is a lot higher than on a weekday night following nine hours in the office!
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