I always wanted to be a journalist from a very early age having read a Ladybird book about newspapers.
At the age of seven I started to create my own newspapers for my family about the farm we lived on and all the animals. They were handwritten with my own pencil and felt tip drawings to accompany.
Having a clear idea of one’s career path from an early age meant it was fairly straightforward deciding what to do at school, college, university and eventually picking my National Council for the Training of Journalists course.
It’s funny now to think that I trained on a typewriter not a PC and that I learnt shorthand up to 120 words per minute. It seems a bit old school these days but you can tell a true journalist if they can do shorthand.
My spare time growing up also revolved around journalism. I wrote for publications, created school and college magazines and took on a whole host of projects including radio and TV to help develop my journalistic skills.
I gained lots of different and wonderful experiences with numerous media (including seeing a piece I wrote in the Sunday Sport, a stint on Take a Break magazine and time as a researcher/producer on a TV documentary) and worked for the Guardian Media Group as a senior journalist. Then I drifted away from journalism ever so slightly to work as a Corporate Affairs consultant for Tesco for four years.
My work with them was very much based on the key journalistic skills I had honed in my previous roles.
By having both a journalism background and now an insight into public relations, it seemed like an opportune time to create my own PR firm.
In fact, people had heard about my work already and were calling me to see if I could help them so it seemed like a natural progression.
Porcupine PR was born officially in my spare room in September 1994. In those days email was barely in its infancy.
When I worked for the Guardian Media Group we had an internal electronic mail system but nothing more. People used to joke about the Internet in those days and ask: ‘Is it still going?’ No one thought then that it would have the impact it has had.
People posted hard copies of photos and press/media releases through the Royal Mail and releases also came by fax but everything took a lot longer and the news was less immediate than it is today. People didn’t have mobile phones to film or take photographs of the things happening around them.
Now everything is in real time. The news is being created and uploaded by the minute. As soon as photographs are taken they can be sent to media via email. It has vastly improved the way we communicate with our clients and the media.
It is strange to think that once upon a time I sent a printed out media release and photo off in the post and waited for at least a week before it appeared in a printed publication.
Today we will have issued potentially hundreds of releases and many of them will already be being read by people online.
We also monitor many of our clients’ social media accounts. We are constantly looking for new ways to raise awareness of them and their products.
Despite these new methods, the good old principles of journalism still hold out and everything we do has to inform, educate or entertain.
In fact being overtly commercial is a huge no-no in social media circles and the skills I learnt as a journalist about being economical and concise with your words and accurate with your facts are just as important today as they ever were.