Freelance Journalist Interview with Laura Shannon
About your journalism
What do you write about?
Money and property.
Where are we likely to see your work?
What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
One of my favourite articles for The Times was a first person piece about whether it was possible to live for a week on the State Pension. I did actually take it seriously, even having soup for dinner, but as you might have guessed my conclusion was that it can’t be done if you want to actually have a life – which is why we all need some form of pension.
What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
Something weird that’s unrelated to what I usually do. I’ve no idea what, so this question has got me thinking!
About you and PRs
Where do you source ideas for articles?
News items in newspapers, magazines and on TV often help spark an idea for another feature, along with research published by campaign groups or official bodies. Experiences of friends and family have helped formulate ideas in the past, along with personal experience and sometimes just random things I think up and decide to research. Chatting with industry professionals also helps, particularly when they can offer insight into any emerging trends or concerns on the horizon.
How can PRs be useful to you?
By putting me in touch with people who want to chat about the field they work in and, more specifically, what affects their work; what’s changing and what we can look out for in the future. Also, case studies are really useful. I’m sorry – I hate the pressure of finding one as much as PRs do but, unfortunately, sometimes a story does rest on having a face for the feature.
How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Email mostly. I’m not too bothered when because if I’m busy I don’t have to respond until things quieten down.
Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
Both. Sorry that’s not a helpful answer. Sometimes the trips, events and meetings are great, sometimes I’m busy (and probably tired) and wish there weren’t additional things requiring time and effort. But if it’s a good event featuring interesting people with interesting ideas (and biscuits) it will always be useful.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
I guess the classic following-up on a press release. So many get sent out that if I responded personally to each one I would spend all my time doing that and wouldn’t earn any money. I know PRs often get told to follow it up.
How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I quite like the idea of being a paramedic, which is unusual because I used to be quite squeamish. I reckon I’d get over it, though, once the adrenaline kicked in and the pressure was on.
If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
Around 75% would go on servicing the loan I took out for home improvements and 25% on a long weekend away (which would obviously have to be on a shoestring). If you get a windfall I think you should always be mostly sensible if you have money pressures, but hold some back if you can to live life a little.
What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
At the moment, ‘Alice’ by Judith Hermann is on my bedside table. On-screen, you would usually find me looking at funny pictures of cats on icanhascheezburger.com. It’s an unhealthy addiction.