I spend hours, sometimes days crafting the perfect Press release. During this time, I have interviewed my VIPs, checked my facts and it has gone through the internal ‘sausage machine’. It’s now as good as any Bratwurst, Chorizo or Andouille. (The world would be nothing without sausages).
After personalising each email and summarising my story in no more than 10 words, I click ‘send’. I wait. Nothing. No word from the other side of the fence. What’s wrong? The answer – nothing. There are just some things that journalists don’t care about.
You have to have worked on the other side of the fence to appreciate this. So here goes my ‘Day in the Life … of a Newshound … or News Chihuahua’ – as my amazingly funny and talented colleague referred to the job.
I wake to the tolling bell of print journalism’s decline – but I still have faith that something exciting will come up soon. Another job perhaps? As I head to work on the bus, I glance around at business people who are checking their smartphones on-the-go. I’m not ‘on-board’ yet with this digital shift in media consumption.
I get to the office and fire up the computer. “Another day, another badly written Press release,” I sigh and then mutter something inaudible.
As I walk to the coffee machine to make my fourth cup of coffee
(it’s only 9am) I can’t help but wonder if PRs even get what journalists want.
I have an in-depth conversation with my editor about an unusual story that has come to light. I then trawl through my contacts book before holding an interview over the phone. I don’t have time to leave the office to attend an upcoming event that I might like to go to. Instead I find myself hammering out paragraphs at the speed of light on deadline. The story always comes first.
After a morning planning session, I’ve got the rest of the day to work on what I’ve been commissioned to do by the editor. I focus on something for the next day and research and write some future pieces. A bubbly PR calls me with a story she’s clearly excited about – but it’s a good one, so I juggle priorities to get both stories into the next day’s edition.
I am ready for my second interview of the day and rehearse my questions ahead of an over-the-phone Q & A. Once the interview is wrapped up, I head to the in-house canteen for a quick bite to eat. I really need to get to the gym more, I have really bad back pain from sitting at my desk too long.
I get a barrage of phone calls from PR people looking to find out when their story will hit the Press. I answer each question politely (then slam the phone down). I know that time is running out to get my 1,000 word feature drafted for tomorrow.
I get a call from a PR whose company has been “misquoted” and wants a clarification printed in the next edition. It’s not my story, so I email my editor and there it goes into his inbox. I then get another call from a PR about why a picture wasn’t used with a piece that has hit the Press. Can I rerun the story for them?
And another about a release which I’m really not interested in because the story does not relate to our readers. I want to tell the PR that the copy will send the readers to sleep, but I refrain. Instead I hit delete after coming off the phone and mutter something to myself about the need to research a publication.
I am in desperate need of some Haribo if I’m to write this feature up. The ‘hamper’ is empty because we’ve not had any free PR goodies lately and I didn’t have time to hit Poundland this morning on my way to work. I thank the Lord for the vending machines in our canteen.
Back at my desk and I get another call from a disgruntled PR whose story hasn’t appeared yet. I explain that while it can be frustrating, the reality is that a journalist can’t include every business and product in one edition.
I roughly go through my e-mails and respond to the most urgent ones that catch my attention. I delete the other more ‘dreary’ ones that haven’t caught my eye. I don’t care about your shiny new product and I don’t even open up the emails that look the slightest bit salesy – delete! I can tell in an instant if what a business PR is saying is scripted – delete!
I drag myself to bed after a take-away, wondering what I’ll write about tomorrow. I am all out of ideas tonight, but I’m sure another Press release will land in my inbox tomorrow that will give me some. I want “exclusive” content because I need to say it first. My editor won’t care if the story has already been covered heavily elsewhere.