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Coal town student turns Uni project into a rich seam of opportunities

Coal town student turns Uni project into a rich seam of opportunities

Published:16 May 2017

TOP: CQUni student Taylor Battersby. BELOW: Dion and Gobi.

It has been a shaggy dog story of epic proportions.

It started when Moranbah-based CQUniversity student Taylor Battersby started a Professional Communication Media Writing project involving a Twitter account in the style of a working journalist.

As she followed various news sites last year, Taylor was struck by BBC’s touching story about Australian extreme runner Dion Leonard.

Dion, who now lives in Scotland, formed an unbreakable bond with a stray dog as he crossed China’s Gobi desert during an ultramarathon. The dog (later named Gobi) ran 125km of the race in the toughest of conditions.

Taylor says that, when she first saw photos of the little brown dog, she wanted to know more and followed the story, including Dion’s plans to quarantine the dog so he could take it back to Scotland.

“When the dog went missing on before it could go into quarantine I was so invested in the story that I was devastated,” she says.

Taylor decided to turn to the power of social media to help so she tracked down Chinese students enrolled in her course to help get the message out via Weibo and WeChat.

“It turns out the Chinese social media sites already had a wildfire of interest and Gobi was subsequently found and has since gone to Edinburgh with Dion, who has written a book called Finding Gobi, including this touching story,” she says.

“Months later out of the blue, due to my social media activity, I got an email from Dion asking me to take on a volunteer role leading a social media team for the HarperCollins launch of Finding Gobi.

“My role has been setting up a volunteer registration form and then coordinating 150 other volunteers in the form of a social media ‘street team’ to answer and respond to questions and to provide updates and information about the book launch.”

Taylor says it is directly because of the requirements of her CQUni course that she has gained this professional development experience of a guerrilla campaign, outside the realms of corporate advertising.

“I now communicate daily with both Dion and the US-based media team for HarperCollins.

"As part of accepting the role, I was given access to an early draft of Finding Gobi back in March, so I was among the first people in the world to read it, which was very exciting."

Gobi and Dion arrived in the United Kingdom, finally completing their journey on 2 January this year. Not only do they plan to run together again but continue to help other stray dogs like Gobi find their ‘forever homes’.

Finding Gobi will launch in Australia on 1 June and in the USA on 13 June.

In February, 20th Century Fox announced development of Finding Gobi as a feature film.

You can follow Dion and Gobi on Instagram @findinggobi on Twitter @findinggobi and .

* CQUniversity is one of Australia’s largest regional universities and the only university with a campus presence in every mainland state of Australia.