Freelance Journalist Interview with Jo Hemmings
Today's multiskilled freelancer Jo Hemmings is not only a trained behavioural psychologist, dating and relationship coach and TV and radio personality, she's also a published author of 'sexpertise' books such as 'How to Have Great Sex', 'The Dating Game' and others (perhaps you've read them).
You may have seen Jo analysing celebrity behaviour on television for programmes such as 'The Alan Titchmarsh Show', lending Phil and Holly a hand in her sex therapist role on 'This Morning', or giving reality contestant psychology a good going over on 'Big Brother's Little Brother' on Channel 4. Jo can also be heard on radio for the BBC, LBC and BBC Radio London.
Now you know where Jo (in her various guises) can be found, find out more about her work in today's interview…
About your journalism
Tell us a bit your work in TV journalism and publishing…we recognise you…
I tend to pop up in all sorts of guises – from psychological comment on news items, documentaries and breakfast TV, to being the sex expert on ITV’s 'This Morning'. I’m also asked to comment quite frequently on body language analysis for both TV and print media – especially when a lying or cheating celebrity is involved! I am also called upon to comment on a number of quick response, quick turnaround TV docs – a psychological talking head!
You’re a trained behavioural psychologist and dating coach as well – how did you originally move into journalism, and was it always a part of your career plan?
Like a lot of freelancers, my career has tended to evolve without a lot of direction from my end! As a psychologist I decided to train as a dating and relationship coach, and was the UK’s first dating coach. I then responded to a lot of work that was coming in regarding celebrity psychology, so developed that as a strand of my career too. Although I am lucky to do a fair bit of media work, I also run a private practice, seeing clients.
What are some of the most memorable things you’ve done in your career?
My big TV ‘break’ came as a result of being asked to be a psychologist on 'Big Brother’s Little Brother' for Channel 4. I did this for eight series. In spite of all my other TV work, it remains one of the most challenging in psychological terms, which often surprises people. I especially enjoy working behind the scenes on reality TV shows – assessing and advising contestants through the process. There is more about what I do – and a showreel and more recent TV work – on JoHemmings.co.uk.
You’re the author of five books on dating and sex – is there anything on that subject that can still surprise you?
Oh yes! I have always been a great supporter of having a varied and adventurous sex life (predictability and routine being a passion killer long term) but I can be shocked by what people get up to. I was also delighted by the response to ’50 Shades’ and the upturn in sales and interest in props, dressing up and more adventurous sex for couples.
About you and PRs
Where do you source ideas for the articles/books you work on? What has been the strangest/most unusual source of inspiration for you?
Given that my books are on dating, relationships and sex, my source tends to be part personal and part professional experience! I think coaching clients has probably been my most interesting source of inspiration. Real people with real concerns being counselled on a one-on-one basis.
How can PRs be useful to you, and how and when do you like them to get in touch?
I do a huge amount of work for PR companies on a wide range of topics, where they need a psychologist to endorse or explain research findings. This usually consists of interpreting the results and providing a few quotes for press releases as well as doing a radio morning to promote it further. Radio is something I really enjoy.
Do you find press/networking events useful or an interruption?
Well, I don’t get asked to many, but enjoy the networking when I do!
Do you use social media, and do you find it useful in your work?
I absolutely love Twitter and rarely have a non-tweeting day. I might start with a bit of psychological news in the morning and often ending up tweeting through documentaries or reality TV – glass of wine in one hand, iPad in the other! As well as being enormously helpful workwise, it is a personal pleasure and while I am always aware that my timeline feeds through my websites, much of it is non-professional, personal views. And unless tweets are offensive, I always try to reply to my followers.
As you’re trained in body language analysis and frequently provide celeb commentary for television, what are the first signs we can look out for to tell if our favourite celebrity is in trouble? (And on a personal note, do you think David Dickinson is okay? And am I okay for liking David Dickinson so much?)
Generally, overall posture is one of the first signs of a celebrity in trouble. Head bowed, shoulders hunched, avoiding direct eye contact. As for your fondness for David Dickinson – may I suggest a session on my psychologist’s couch?!
I may have to take you up on that…after 'David Dickinson's Real Deal', of course! What books, magazines and blogs do you personally enjoy (we'll take the enjoyment of 'Real Deal' as a given)?
Apart from keeping up-to-date with professional books, I am a keen reader of contemporary fiction and relish filling up my Kindle as part of my pre-holiday prep. I like to read a book in one or two sittings, so can be quite unsociable when on the beach! I dip in and out of blogs, but not a regular user of them. As for magazines – well, I try to remember to buy the ones that I write for, but other than that, I think Grazia is a terrific weekly read and the subscription to that was one of the best birthday presents ever!