Friday, August 29, 2008
Being a journalist again

Page 285 of September's at home magazine features the best article ever written on home audio gadgets. Or maybe the second best, depending on whether you count the cover story of Australian Reseller News' home audio supplement in 2004.

"So, what was it like being a journalist again?" I hear you all cry. (Having recovered from the shock at reading an article of such raw power and general awesomeness.)

Well, first of all, it appeared in print extremely quickly. In PR I'm used to an article I write going to the client contact for approval, then to their legal team, then back to me for changes, then to the client contact for final approval, then to the client contact's boss, then back to us for formatting, then off to the PR team, then out to a journalist or editor who may or may not print it. In this instance, I wrote it - and in less than two weeks my mum's proudly plucking if off the shelf in Waitrose.

Secondly - in stark contrast to PR - everyone was nice. The deputy editor sent me emails thanking me for my work. The editor said she liked my chatty writing style. The subeditor even kept most of my words in. The PR people I rang up were so nice it got embarrassing. That was the weirdest bit - being back on the other side. If I'd had any problems downloading the high res images I'm sure Sony's PR person would've hand delivered them to me. On their day off. And apologised for the inconvenience.

And finally... It was really easy. After the initial shock (which felt a little bit like being released into the wild after a nice comfortable spell in the zoo), the freedom to share my own opinion in print was sublime, bordering on ridiculous. It took a while to get my head around the fact that I didn't have to consider messaging, positioning, competition, branding, potential conflicts and the marketing schedule. But when it clicked I was away. I just had a laugh with it.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not lamenting my move into PR or wishing I was back on the other side. But what the experience has reminded me of is how things work over there. The result is some clear thinking on what makes the difference between PR that works and PR that doesn't.

I feel a list coming on.