Freelance journalist Focus interview with Neil Kennett

Freelance journalist Neil Kennett specialises in the automotive sector but stresses he’s “an unfussy pen-for-hire” who can provide the right copy on any topic an editor or a PR hires him to cover. In this Focus he tells us about his work, how PRs can help, and how he went from shelf stacking to MP to journalist…

What do you write about?
I am generally happy to bang on about anything an editor is willing to pay me for, but I have been known to do stuff just because I am interested. Despite being an unfussy pen-for-hire I tend to specialise in all things automotive, writing everything from race meeting reports to features on the finer points of repair legislation. On the PR side, the client is King (or Queen) and I write what I am told to!

Where are we likely to see your work?
Unless you like relaxing with an automotive trade title or some obscure corporate publication, Autosport and Max Power are probably your best bets.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
Hmmm, I can think of a few candidates. Going out on an operation with the MET was quite an eye opener, but getting paid to watch motorsport for the first time was a real professional milestone – a 750 Motor Club event at Lydden Hill earlier this year.

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
An expose that brings down a President would be good.

Where do you source ideas for articles?
Most things lead on from previous assignments but inspiration can strike at any time.

How can PRs be useful to you?
By supplying information on products, services, activities and events.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
If I have asked to be kept informed on something then I prefer to receive information by email.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
It depends entirely on how much I’ve got on that week. I like to get out and see things first hand (and even enjoy the odd blatant jolly!) but to make it worthwhile I have to find out something original – making the effort to go somewhere only to find you could have got everything from the press release is irritating.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Make them understand that just occasionally the stated deadline is the actual deadline!

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I have worked as a shelf stacker, double glazing salesman and secretary to an MP in my time, but being a freelance journalist is my dream job.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
On a new digital camera.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
I am currently nearing the end of Catch-22 and am going to miss it when I finish it. I read Private Eye and Uncut when I get a chance but don’t do blogs unless someone emails me a link.

[lnk||_blank|Contact Neil Kennett via the Freelance Journalist Directory]
[img|jpg|Neil Kennett]

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