Tom Bennett - WSL Media and Communications

We chat to Tom Bennett, WSL's communications and media officer for the Australasia region. We had the chance to meet him at the Quicksilver Pro 2016 in Gold Coast. Tom was running up and down with microphone in hand, talking to the surfers after their heats, organising the Media team and working on his laptop uploading all the content gathered during the event. 

Passionate about surfing from a young age, Tom had always clear that he wanted to step into the surf industry at any cost. 

When did you get your first surfboard?

My grandparents gave me a second-hand board for christmas when i was 9 years old. Best christmas present ever! It was from a local shaper from near my home in South Australia, a 5’11 Genesis.

What do you love about surfing?

Everything! the feeling itself, talking about it with mates, the adventure of hunting for waves, anticipating a swell.. I just love everything about it!

What is that you do at WSL?

I am the communications and media officer for the Australasia region.

How did you get to this job position?

I studied Public Relations and marketing/media at university with the intention of finding work in the surf industry. Not long after i finished my study i had been working at a PR company in my hometown of Adelaide and got in contact with the Tour Manager for WSL Australasia. He offered me an internship during the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper. That went well so i went along to Bells as an intern and then continued to do work remotely for the rest of the year. Once the Australasia region began to get busy again they contacted me as they needed someone to start full time. Thankfully for me I was there to be chosen.

What does your daily Schedule look like on tour?

As i work for the Australasia region, I attend the regional events so not the Championship tour (QS, LQS, JQS events). During a standard day of competition i will be taking photos, editing and uploading them to our media library and website. I also collect quotes from heat winners to enter into the daily press releases which i also write, as well as distribute and upload them to the WSL Website. I try and keep a good spread from different countries or states to try and maximise the exposure that the contest and its sponsors and competitors will receive.

Do you have any other experience in the Surf Industry?

I worked at a surf store in Adelaide for a few years. I loved it, i used to go into the store all the time and talk to the owner and ask if he had any jobs available until one day he did. I thought at the time that was the dream gig! I also did work crew at a few State titles events in South Australia, helping to set up and pack down the event and that sort of stuff. Working for WSL is definitely the most involved i have ever been in the surf industry.

How do you think the Surf Industry is evolving/changing?

On a professional surfing level it is becoming a lot more fan based. There are a lot of people that are following surfing and becoming surf fans that don’t necessarily surf themselves. I never really thought i would see the day that surfing would be like that.

What do you love the most about your job?

The travel is one of the best things for sure but it is pretty constant which can wear you down a bit. I think one of my favourite things is working in an environment with a bunch of like-minded people. Everyone i work with got into this because they are as passionate about surfing as i am so we’re all really lucky to work with each other. Everyone gets on really well and works well as a team. Because we all spend so much time on the road together this cohesion is really important for the success of the contests we run and the organisation we work for.

Do you go to all the events on tour or just some?

I go to the majority of the events run in the Australasia region. (Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Australia and some other destinations that are in the works) all of these events are QS, JQS and LQS events although i did do media management work at Snapper this year.

Do you travel outside of work?

I do love to travel but this year there has been so much travelling for work it is kind of nice to spend time at home. It’s good to get into a regular daily routine from time to time.

What is your favourite surf destination and why?

Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. It’s where i did my first surf trips with friends and there are a bunch of  good setups that work in all kinds of conditions. I’ve got really good memories from there and always have a great time.

Any exciting stuff coming your way? Plans for the future?

I’m heading to Japan this week for the QS 6000 there which will be cool. I have never been to Japan but have always wanted to so i’m really excited about that!

Posted by: Marta Gallardo, on June 12, 2016
Categories: Interviews