We met up with Deputy Business Editor, Greg Wright, to discuss his responsibilities at The Yorkshire Post, and how PRs and journalists have a mutually beneficial relationship.
Talk to me a little about your current position at the Yorkshire Post.
As Deputy Business Editor, my role is heavily focused on preparing and overseeing the content that goes into the business section of the Yorkshire Post, and the twice-weekly business supplements. We have a fantastic team here. We have a responsibility to report on everything that matters to the businesses in Yorkshire, the good and the bad, and speak of the issues affecting both SMEs and the larger corporate companies.
It’s also a very outward-facing role. Alongside the day to day task of editing, I also organise and manage specific business events such as Yorkshire’s Fastest 50, Great Northern Conference and the Yorkshire Post Business Awards. To me, this is a really important part of my role as we are providing the opportunity for fantastic businesses in our region to be recognised.
I don’t know if you can tell, but I am extremely passionate about supporting the business community, which is why I think I enjoy my role so much!
How would you describe a typical day at work for you?
Each day is different but comes with similar demands. For example, on a Monday and a Wednesday, I am extremely busy preparing the content for the Tuesday and Thursday Business Supplements. Similarly, our regular features such as Day in the Life, My Passion, Voices and Opinions, need monitoring on a day to day basis.
We receive an awful lot of content and between the team, we have to identify the stories that our readers will appreciate. We usually have a daily conference at 11am to discuss stories, features and newspaper content, which dictates the rest of the day’s workload.
What are your biggest challenges/pet hates in your current role?
A major pet hate for me is, when individuals submitting content, don’t do their research first. Journalists appreciate it when people take the time to research previous content and make reference to it. A nice little note at the start of your pitch such as “I read your article on apprenticeships and thought the below story would be perfect for you and your readers” really makes the difference.
We also appreciate being sent press releases that are relevant to our region. Sometimes, I feel that there is no understanding of geography and it’s a frustrating exercise sifting through emails that really shouldn’t have been received in the first place.
I guess my biggest challenge is one which most in my industry will relate to, and that is having the thinking space and time to really appreciate the information that is being sent. I’m often swept away with lots of information and I have to just take a moment to think ‘why am I writing this?’, ‘how will it support our readers?’ We have 10 pages of space to fill, and we need to ensure we are filling it with valuable content, which is extremely time-consuming and reduces the amount of time we have to sit and take it all in.
How would you say your industry has changed to accommodate digital developments?
Wow. An awful lot. It’s completely different to when I first started out. Once the content had been decided on for the paper, we used to have 4 or 5 hours before it went to print. Now, as soon as we receive a tip off, or have a great story, we must make it live online. Unless there is a good reason for a delay, we have minutes to upload it. This is another reason why we value video, audio and photo content as we can publish it on our online platform. Sadly, we don’t receive that much and often have to chase for it.
Back in the days before the digital revolution, I would meet people face to face and write stories first hand. Sometimes, I would even be writing press releases after witnessing the story, especially with news associated with the magistrates’ court.
What important factors would you say have contributed to your success?
Interestingly, if you had told me I would be a Deputy Business Editor when I first started out, I wouldn’t have believed you. For me, being open to new ideas and challenges has really driven my success. I started out in broadcast at the local hospital when I was a teenager and went on to study media studies degree with history on the back of this.
I had dreamt of being a broadcaster for a long time but after university I began my training in Lincolnshire as a news reporter. I then took the leap to work at Ananova.com in 2000. This was where I realised that business reporting was for me, and in 2004 I re-joined The Yorkshire Post to follow my dream as Deputy Business Editor.
What tips for success would you give to someone following your career path?
- Have an open mind, and don’t be too rigid
- Be a great listener
- Have tenacity – keep going
- Be willing to embrace change, the world is constantly evolving
- Be curious, it helps when finding great stories
Is there anything you would have done differently in your career?
I could say that I would have focused on business earlier than I did, but I believe that my experiences formed the path I was destined to take.
If you could travel back in time and write about a historical moment as it was happening, which moment would you choose?
That’s a fantastic question, and very fitting considering my degree was partly history. It would definitely be the original Shakespeare performance at the Globe.
How do you view the relationship between a PR and a journalist?
More often than not, it’s harmonious. We both have a similar duty in that we are serving someone. PRs have a duty to deliver to clients, and journalists have a duty to deliver content their readers want. It’s in our interest to have a good relationship with PRs as we often need to contact a client for comment, or a crisis response. We also rely heavily on PRs to provide content for our features and we value their submissions, but one thing we respect is honesty. There is nothing worse than being provided with incorrect information, because we will look into it.
Would you say that the relationship has changed throughout your career?
Oh greatly! We used to receive press releases in the post, and we would call the PRs on the back of them to find out more about the story. It used to be a huge moment in the office when the post arrived. Now, with the world becoming predominantly digital, we are receiving stories via email all day long. It’s a great time for people to be in PR however as papers appreciate having external suppliers of well written stories.
What advice would you give to PRs when dealing with the media?
- Be focused
- Do your homework
- Be conscious of deadlines
- Be conscious of demographics
- Invest in a photographer
- Submit clients for features and profiles
- Encourage clients to enter awards and attend the ceremonies
Does the quality of an accompanying image dictate whether a press release is published?
Yes! You would be surprised how many stories we receive that don’t have an image attached or if they do, it’s not relevant to the story. This causes a huge delay as we have to then search for an image or chase people. As I mentioned earlier, we appreciate strong imagery and video, especially for online content.
And everyone’s biggest question – would you prefer to be contacted via email, phone or social media?
If it’s breaking news, call us, we might miss an email. However, for anything else, I’d recommend emailing. Usually, first thing in a morning is best as we can discuss it in our daily conference. If we haven’t used it, it’s because we don’t feel it’s relevant for our readers, so I wouldn’t suggest calling to follow up, perhaps an email the day after would be suffice. One tip I would give people is to think about your subject field as this will increase your chances of us reading it. Putting ‘Press Release’ simply won’t work.