I feel like a media guerrilla, with limited resources and guile, trying to amplify a small yet vital voice within the mainstream media
Alarm blaring out, birds singing cheerily and the soft tones of John Humphries of R4 fame will soon be filling the room with the news of the day.
This is where my working day begins.
And today the NHS is top of the agenda once again.
Campaigning PR like other forms of journalism is not for clock watchers and not for those seeking fame and fortune. But once I awake and switch on, I know I am in the right profession.
Today the group I work for – Keep Our NHS Public is enjoying a bumper day. A key activist is on the Today programme and later will also be on the BBC News Website and Newsnight.
This success is on the back of some steady media coverage which can be difficult to obtain when your group is one of many campaigning and speaking on the most important issue leading up to the general election.
But at this early hour in the day, I am happy and full of energy.
The highs and lows you have in this job are often in parallel with how well the media is receiving you, what coverage you are getting and most importantly if your key messaging hooks are having an impact on the public.
A short bus ride to the office – the amazing Hackney Volunteer Centre where we rent a desk – is our base of operation.
Here I sit with other NGO’s busy working away trying to get our respective messages out there.
Suddenly the phone rings. It’s the boss!
I am so lucky to have a practical and fair minded employer, when I know for many brothers and sisters in the union reading this, it is not the case.
Of course it is our right to be treated fairly and properly at work. But it is great when we can just get on with the job in hand rather than having to worry about bullying or other forms of unfair treatment.
The phone call is brief and we discuss the press release and social media messages I will be sending out during the day.
The NHS is such a huge monolith that to cover all aspects of what is happening is impossible. So much of our focus is on reacting to reactionary government policies and promoting an alternative to the privatisation agenda.
Our activists have branches across the country and I try my best to promote their vital work in the community both in the local and national media.
My diary is awash with upcoming events. We have another national coordinated day of action coming up this weekend and I will be manning our social media hub to get the message to the press and public that there is resistance to privatisation and unshakeable love for our NHS.
After speaking to a member in Southend, it is lunchtime. But there is no time to enjoy the sun starting to break through. A quick dash to the Co-op for a meal deal – usually an uninspiring ham and cheese sandwich is what awaits me – and back to the office again, to see if there have been any press emails.
Since starting the job in September we have seen our media profile and influence soar. It would be totally wrong and arrogant to take all of the credit for that.
As a PR, we do have skills which grassroots organisations need. However without the dedication of our members who do their work for no pay and who create climate which we can promote in the media, there would be no coverage.
It is early evening now and I am sparing a thought for what we are up against. I feel like a media guerrilla, with limited resources and guile, trying to amplify a small yet vital voice within the mainstream media.
Despite my years of journalistic experience and professional training, nothing prepares you quite like first-hand experience when you are made responsible for an organisation’s voice, directing it and making it sound appealing to a sometimes difficult mass media.
Official hours are done now and no campaigns event to attend so it is a back home. And even though you must switch off, it is always hard to because tomorrow on the sun rising, battle begins once more.
– This article was originally published in the Journalist: