Life in the fast lane


After spending the best part of two years as a snotty sports journalist immediately after a three-year journalism degree I’d had it pretty much ingrained into me that the PR industry was the antithesis of everything the noble art of journalism stood for.

Fortunately, I’m not one to take everything I’m told literally and after a few years nodding along to mind-crushingly dull clichés from football players and managers I decided to take the murky plunge into the sordid underworld of PR.

My life as a PR professional had rarely shown any similarities to my time as a globe trotting (Rochdale is on the globe, okay) sports journalist until a recent excursion to the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) media day at Brands Hatch, where both worlds collided to give me a unique insight to life on both sides of the media track.

One of our clients, Leyland, has enjoyed a fruitful sponsorship of leading racing outfit Motorbase Performance, particularly its BTCC team Airwaves BMW, and after renewing their deal for a second season they wanted to make a splash in front of the nation’s motorsport media with their ‘Mad About Colour’ slogan.

And they didn’t disappoint. Making their mark on the assembled media and fans were the colourful Leyland Lovelies and Tin Top, the new Leyland racing mascot, Leyland were guaranteed to catch the eye of photographers and camera crews.

Where previously I would have turned a blind eye to the promotional aspects of top-level sport, my job now is to create as much noise around these activities as possible.

And while hardened journalists might sniff at this, from my own experience I can assure you that there’s a similar sense of achievement when securing coverage for your client as there is when seeing your own by-lined copy.

I’ve lost track of the amount of times that I’d missed whatever action I was supposed to be filing copy on because my head was buried in a laptop furiously typing away to ensure my copy was ready to be sent on the full-time whistle.

Not this time, though.

Sure, I miss the challenge of undertaking interviews, writing and filing copy and getting free lunches, but any sense of loss is tempered by the fact that the excitement and buzz of this is to the detriment to your appreciation for the event as a whole.

Working as a PR representative allowed me to gain a broader perspective on the day, gave me the opportunity to speak to team members and journalists, build contacts and relationships, all of which conspired to ensure that the press release I drafted the next day was as considered and colourful as it could be.

If you’ve experienced anything similar or think I’m spouting complete nonsense then please let me know below and we can thrash it out!

Harris » Life in the fast lane