Posts Tagged ‘Hotwire’

Fun times at the Financial Times

August 26, 2011

It’s not every day you’re offered the chance to experience life at one of the most recognisable and widely respected newspapers in the world, so I jumped at the chance of taking part in a short term job-swap with one of the FT’s communications team. So with no expectations and a sack full of questions I headed down to Southwark Bridge and into the bustling FT HQ.

Editorial conferences form the backbone of the Press Office’s proactive media outreach, listening out for all-important scoops, followed by the frenzied scribbling of notes and subsequent pitching to broadcast outlets. While these conferences are part of the daily routine for the many journalists, editors and wider comms team present, they were a rare and fascinating window into a world that many PRs never get to experience.

Even to the most seasoned PR professionals, editorial conferences can be mysterious and frustratingly elusive factories of censorship, where our carefully crafted stories are processed, dissected and manufactured into something new. Sometimes they are consigned to the waste heap and (thankfully) other times they are mass produced. It was a privilege and a thoroughly edifying experience to be a part of them during my short time at the FT.

Of course, getting an insight into the inner workings of the paper and a taste of the tactics used to promote the FT brand was hugely interesting, but it also served as the perfect chance to get a flavour of in-house public relations. Working with a single ‘client’, for example, is an intriguing concept to the uninitiated agency-based PR.

At Skywrite we each work with multiple organisations – in industries as diverse as B2B telecoms, gaming and lifestyle – who each have several products, services or solutions launching at varying times of the year. I quickly learnt that in-house life, at the FT at least, is no less varied. One day I was staffing briefings on the FT’s digital strategy, the next I was pitching a scoop on RBS cutting 2,000 jobs, and the day after I was promoting FT Weekend content on the wines of France to lifestyle bloggers.

The major difference was the role of proactive and reactive outreach on a daily basis. The FT and its Press Office have done an amazing job at building very close relationships with broadcast outlets, positioning their expert journalists as go-to authorities on a range on topics. This requires a lot of proactive work in the background, but when a big scoop breaks the phone does not stop ringing. It’s easy to see how quickly a typical day can be flipped on its head as the team efficiently organises the resulting myriad of enquiries and interview requests.

In contrast, almost 100% of our daily work at Skywrite is based entirely on proactivity. Either brainstorming ideas, developing campaigns or plans designed to generate media interest, creating content that fits into the news agenda, or simply pitching news and product reviews. We’re on the phone just as much as our in-house counterparts – the only difference is who does the dialling.

To find out how the other half of the job-swap went, read the FT’s Esther Kissiedu on her time at Skywrite, available here.

Gorkana interviews Skywrite’s Laura Macdonald

August 19, 2011

Our very own Laura Macdonald (or Big Mac as we like to call her) has just been interviewed by Gorkana!

Read her thoughts on Skywrite’s interesting past and glorious future right here.


%d bloggers like this: