Eczema, Take That and Robin of Sherwood aren’t your typical discussion topics for journalism and media students at Leeds Trinity University but then, for Suzanne Watson, this is no ordinary week.
The reputable university which prides itself on creating employability for its 3,500 + students through invaluable industry experience, is hosting Journalism Week 2016 featuring an impressive portfolio of speakers from Channel 4, ITV, Top Gear, Sky, the Yorkshire Evening Post and BBC Radio Leeds.
After starting my working life as a weekly and evening reporter – inspired by a week’s work experience on Bradford’s very own Telegraph & Argus – I spent four years in print journalism in North Wales and West Yorkshire before moving to the ‘other side’ and into PR in 1992.
I wasn’t initially sure that my experiences would be of interest to this sea of youthful under and post graduate students. Digital natives to whom tweets, selfies and hashtags are the currency of their daily conversations. But it seems I was wrong.
However digital our world becomes, news still needs to be found, recognised and told. It might be in 140 characters and it might be a lot faster than the early 90s days of the fax and even the phone. But more often than not, alongside an insightful tweet is a link to a well-written, detailed article, created by a respected journalist.
A good story is still needed to craft a good Tweet. A picture still needs to be great to be sharable. And good PR still needs news gathering skills, an ability to talk to and get the best out of people and an intuitive ability to relate to what your audience needs and wants to hear.
Get these elements right and you’re ready to start any communications campaign – social or traditional. Ideally, both.
So what of Gazza Barlow, Praedy and eczema… Well, it’s simple really. Each one has impacted my life, shaped my experiences and, albeit for very different reasons, given me something to shout about and share. Plus, who wants to see a presentation full of dull images that just scream business? Life is for enjoying the moment and business has to be about having fun. Even when you’re supposedly the responsible adult!
It’s thanks to the people I work with and the clients we serve that my career still puts a ‘fire in my belly’… But never more so than today when I left the auditorium to find an inbox groaning with Tweets, selfies and fantastic feedback from an audience who were eager to learn, experience and engage with today’s communications professionals.
I take my PR hat off to Leeds Trinity for hosting a fantastic week that is not only a learning opportunity for its students but has formed an invaluable part of this speaker’s life experience too.