Q&A with Amy Golledge
Job title: Communications and Media Officer
Company: Friends of the Earth
Typical hours: 9am until 5.30pm Monday to Friday, very occasional weekends/evenings and work as 'on-call' press officer at weekends once every seven weeks.
What are your main duties and responsibilities?
I am part of a team of seven in the Communications and Media department. Everyone has different responsibilities but as a team we all deal with the media enquiries that come into the Friends of the Earth press office.
Answering a journalist's enquiry often involves speaking with one of our campaigners to collate an appropriate response or setting up an interview directly with our campaigner, sometimes for TV and radio.
My personal role within the team involves managing our celebrity ambassadors and promoting and managing the Friends of the Earth brand and reputation.
Working with celebrities means managing the relationship with them and their agent, updating them on our work and asking them for their support, which could be anything from giving a media interview on our behalf about one of our campaigns or donating a signed prize for a fundraising activity. Because we're a charity, celebrities typically give their time for free so it is my job to ensure their goodwill is managed carefully and they remain engaged with our work.
I also help manage the communications and publicity for some of our bigger fundraising activities and partnerships with other organisations.
Can you describe a typical day in (or out) of the office?
The first thing I do when I get into the office is to read the news. The whole team reads all the national newspapers and highlights any coverage (mentions of Friends of the Earth and pieces of editorial we have helped generate) and environment stories that are relevant to our current campaigns. We may want to respond to a story with a comment.
If I was planning on sending out a press release I would do this next, as it is good practice to do this early to give newspapers as much time as possible to write up the story during the day for tomorrow's newspapers. However, as other media such as magazines and websites don't operate to the same deadlines, it wouldn't always be necessary to do this first thing.
I may need to place a few phone calls to journalist contacts and send e-mails. Once the time-sensitive work is done and I've responded to my other e-mails, I consult my To Do list. I may need to write a press release or do some research into a celebrity that we'd like to approach.
I usually have at least one internal meeting every day on a project. I also write content for Friends of the Earth channels so I might need to update our Facebook page, Tweet or write a blog for our website.
Which qualifications are useful or necessary for this field of work?
To work in Public Relations (PR) and communications it is usual and beneficial to have a Degree but not always essential. I've known many people work in PR with all manner of degrees behind them but common ones include English Literature, Communications/PR and Media Studies. I also have A-Levels in Media Studies and Geography, which have proved useful for this role.
Which personal qualities do you feel make you suited to this job?
I was commonly described at school by teachers as a 'good all-rounder' and I think having a general spread of skills is well suited to PR, as you often have to turn your hand to all sorts of things. Specifically though, I think it's important to have good communication skills, both written and verbal, and being organised is essential. You should also be interested in the media and consume a lot of it.
I was employed at Friends of the Earth for my PR credentials rather than having an environmental background. However, I feel very strongly about the great work that Friends of the Earth do tackling some of the most urgent environmental problems, and having a passion for the subject you are communicating is also important.
Which route did you take to enter this field of work?
When I was 16 I was unsure what I wanted to do with my life and what to study at University, so I consulted a careers advisor. She asked what I enjoyed and what I thought I was good at. I replied with, 'I'm a fair writer and I love to talk!' so she recommended I look into PR.
I set up a work experience placement for myself within a Communications Department to get a better feel for what PR was all about. I enjoyed my placement and subsequently ended up doing a four-year degree in Public Relations at Leeds Metropolitan University.
Throughout my degree I did several work experience slots at different places and spent my third year on a paid work-placement as a Communications Assistant in the NHS. Having this experience behind me when I graduated was invaluable when looking for my first permanent role in PR.
For you, what makes it worth coming into work each day?
Knowing that every day will be different and working to help a cause I believe in. I also work with many lovely people and there's a lot to be said for having decent work colleagues!
Are there any downsides?
I love my job and choice of career so it's difficult to think of any downsides! It can be frustrating when you've worked really hard on a campaign but it doesn't get picked up by the media despite your best efforts, often because a bigger story has broken on the same day.