When your Twitter feed lights up with our Olympic athletes achieving their best or they’re hoisting their medals high on Instagram, chances are UTS alumna Taya Conomos is behind the story.
As Digital Media Coordinator for the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), Taya has had a front row seat at some of our finest sporting achievements over the past four years. She’s just about to complete her first ‘Olympic cycle’ – meaning she’s now been part of the delegation at the Summer and Winter Olympics; Summer and Winter Youth Olympics and the Australian Youth Olympic Festival.
“The Games are the toughest few weeks (read long hours, crazy days, emotional highs and lows), but there’s no better feeling than running on that adrenalin. You don’t stop pinching yourself at the Olympic Games.”
“Getting the Olympic uniform, scoring tickets to the Opening Ceremony and having an Access All Areas pass never gets old”, she said. “The Games are the toughest few weeks (read long hours, crazy days, emotional highs and lows), but there’s no better feeling than running on that adrenalin. You don’t stop pinching yourself at the Olympic Games.”
This exhilarating path opened up to Taya while she was on exchange from UTS to the University of Copenhagen in 2009. The International Olympic Committee was hosting a big conference there, and the sport-loving student volunteered for a role in the media centre. It was here that she met AOC President John Coates, who offered her an internship on her return to Australia. The day after her final Law exam at UTS in 2010 the AOC offered her a full time role, and she now oversees the @AUSOlympicTeam social media strategy, produces online digital content such as news articles and videos, builds websites, manages media, and a whole lot more.
Her first campaign was the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria – a great introduction to the Olympic movement. Here she worked as press attaché for figure skating, biathlon and cross country as part of a small and motivated team headed by Chef de Mission/dual Olympic medallist, Alisa Camplin.
Her next stop six months later was the 2012 Olympic Games in London – a whole new ballgame, with a team of 410 athletes and 38 sports on the program. Her role was to write stories for the AOC website and team magazine, produce daily videos, manage the education and run the social media campaign. “Words can’t do justice to that experience”, she said. “It was inspiring, overwhelming and thrilling all at once.”
At the 2013 Australian Youth Olympic Festival Taya embraced the opportunity to repay the guidance and support she’d received by mentoring a team of up-and-coming reporters, helping them to master digital media.
Taya’s role has grown significantly alongside the huge shift in the way we all receive and interact with news, thanks to the dominance of social media. Just 18 months after her multi-faceted focus at London, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi saw her role dedicated solely to social media. On the scene and delivering rich content to followers across the globe, the AOC ran a 24 hour social media campaign that saw the IOC rank Australia as fourth on social media – placing just behind the big guns: USA, Canada and Great Britain.
“Everybody has now realised that sport and social media make such a good partnership – they go together like a meat pie and sauce”, she said. “The AOC has embraced social media and it is now part of every communication discussion.”
The @AUSOlympicTeam now has over 350,000 social media followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+, representing an increase of over 150,000 fans since the London Games. During the Sochi Games there were almost 15 million impressions of @AUSOlympicTeam content on Facebook alone. According to Taya, our athletes in Sochi were genuinely overwhelmed by the huge level of support for the team on social media, with over 5,000 messages posted to the @AUSOlympicTeam Fan Wall on the team website and thousands of messages on social media. “This support cannot be understated”, she said. “It kept a smile on the Aussie faces during the Games and instilled a real sense of pride.”
Graduating in 2010 with a combined degree in Communications and Law, Taya always loved the practical nature of her degree. She says it’s no surprise that UTS is at the forefront of the changing communications landscape in introducing a Digital and Social Media major as part of the course. “It is certainly the future of media and I see that as a really exciting thing”, she said. “Social media was hardly on the agenda when I was at uni – it’s incredible to see how far things have come.”
In a career that has already had so many highlights, it must be difficult to choose the most memorable moments. “I’ve been blown away watching Usain Bolt, Michael Phelps and so many Australians win medals”, she said. “In Sochi, the night aerial skier Dave Morris won his silver medal was pretty special. I was on the snow covering the event and was right there when he saw his elated family after the flower ceremony. Then we all headed down to a party where the Australian Team had been watching his event live. The place went nuts when Dave walked in – still with his ski boots and racing bib on. At the end of the night our hard working media team and our media star Dave were the last ones standing when his replay came on the TVs. Dave watched it over and ran through the emotions all over again with us – it was awesome.”
And there’s plenty more to come for Taya. Next stop is Nanjing, China, for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, and then a huge year in 2016 that will culminate in the Rio Olympic Games. Keep an eye out for her on the social media frontlines, helping you connect with and celebrate our Olympic champions and be part of the excitement.
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