Melanie Aldrian | Foto: Pierre Gleizes/Greenpeace

Out and about for a better world

“A rocking ship, limited internet and repeated trips out in the dinghy between the actual PR work.” This is how Melanie Aldrian, graduate of the Alpen-Adria-Universität, describes a day in her life when she’s out on location working for Greenpeace International. Originally from the Austrian region of Styria, she has been working as a media spokesperson for Greenpeace CEE in Vienna and for Greenpeace International since February 2011.
“The most special moments are those when our work gets results, when we can see and feel that we have had an impact and changed the world even slightly for the better.” Melanie Aldrian’s choice of study was very much influenced by her lifelong love of the written and spoken word. “Even as a child, I knew I would turn this passion into a career,” explains Melanie, who studied Journalism and Communication Studies at AAU. After three semesters she started studying English and American Studies too, as the content of the two courses complemented each other well, and she was very impressed with the quality of the teaching and the teachers in the department. Everything she learned during her course about communication, film studies, journalism and PR still helps her today: “I often find myself in situations that remind me a seminar or lecture – my studies still very much have an impact on my work.” For Melanie Aldrian, the most valuable aspects were the courses on offer, the excursions, the opportunities for getting involved with projects, and the personal contact with the professors and assistant teachers at AAU. Her course required independence, flexibility, verboseness and critical reflection, and these qualities are all very valuable in her work today too.
Searching for meaning
After completing her two programmes of study, Aldrian joined the PR agency Pleon Publico. Within three years she had risen from PR Assistant to Junior Consultant and then Consultant. She enjoyed working in the PR agency, but it was not entirely fulfilling, so she started to look for more meaning in her work, finally ending up at the headquarters for Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe in Vienna. The 32-year-old media spokesperson is now responsible for their media work. Her job involves tasks such as press releases, interviews, communication concepts and press conferences, and is very different and varied in terms of content, location and procedures – even being a little strange sometimes. “I might suddenly find myself back in a dinghy alongside an enormous trawler, or wearing a polar bear costume to raise awareness of the threats facing the Arctic.”
International cooperation

Melanie Aldrian often gets involved with international projects at Greenpeace. It’s very exciting for her to work with international media, such as the BBC, Guardian or Reuters. Her most formative experience so far was spending time on Greenpeace ships in international waters, reporting on European fishing fleets emptying West African waters of fish, destroying the ecosystem and the livelihoods of African fishermen. It is at such moments, when the newly elected president of Senegal cancelled 29 international fishing licences as a result of the Greenpeace campaigns and actions, for example, that Melanie Aldrian can see and feel the difference she is making through her work.

When asked what skills are particularly important for her job, she answers: flexibility, mobility, improvisation and idealism. But for Aldrian, the most vital thing is the belief in the messages being communicated, and correspondingly the passion for the job.

When Melanie Aldrian isn’t out and about working on behalf of Greenpeace, she loves to go and visit the places she is fighting for – the many unique places in the world. More information about Melanie Aldrian’s adventures on the high seas can be found on Greenpeace Austria’s website.