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Freelance Journalist Focus: Andrew Don

This week we catch up with freelance journalist Andrew Don. He talks to us about his extensive range of work including working undercover in his 25 years as a journalist and how he would spent £1000 on a stand for his parrot.

About your journalism:

What do you write about?
What do you write about? Anything and everything. People know me as a journalist’s journalist and I have a reputation as a hard-nosed newsman. I believe that any good journalist should be able to tackle anything.

I’ve written over a period of 25 years on topics as diverse as boarding kennels (I went undercover for the Evening Standard – but not disguised as a dog), special education, genetically modified food, personal finance, hairdressing and beauty, commercial property, radon gas, the big supermarket chains, health, drinks, small business, security, hospitality and leisure industry, child psychology, bereavement, euthanasia, parenting, general education & training, I have held consultant editorships and have had regular columns including syndicated legal copy and I have been hired to write leaders. I have written industry manuals and documents on food hygiene and safety. I am author of Security in the Salon, Fathers feel too and contributed to Creating New Families, Therapeutic Approaches to Fostering, Adoption And Kinship Care. I made a video with Tavistock Clinic for the Department of Health on the subject of adoption.

Journalism is a craft and a skill that I have honed and nurtured. I love it. I am a lover of words and enjoy taking on any work that uses my skills as a writer. I have written speeches for captains of industry, written the editorial for corporate annual reports and I have been heavily involved in campaign journalism. I have held consultant editorships and I was launch editor of SalonFocus, the only magazine for salon owners that specialises in hard news. I produce daily news summaries for sector-specific titles early in the morning (a kind of intelligent press cuttings service) and can also do this at weekends if required. I am currently touting a novel around literary agents.

Where are we likely to see your work?
Over 25 years I have been published in The Independent on Sunday, Mail on Sunday, Financial Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The European (Elan), Graduate Scientist and Engineer, Educational Courses In America and Britain, American in Britain, Super Marketing, Baking Update, British Baker, Frozen and Chilled Foods, Food F.I.P.P, Morning Advertiser, Manchester Evening News, The Publican, Asian Business (contributing business editor), Today, Tax Free Marketing, Beauty Counter, Marketing, Restaurant Magazine, Financial Director, Good Food Retailing, CTN, London Evening Standard, Catering, Professional Wholesaler (business news editor), Retail World (Consultant Editor), Independent Retail News, Motor Trade Executive, UK Editor Food & Drink Daily, Super Market News (USA), Caterer & Hotel Keeper, The Sun, The Daily Express, The Daily Mirror, Electrical Times, Retail Newsagent, Hairdressers Journal, The Fitness Business, Mondial Food and Drink Index, Estates Gazette Interactive, case studies for British Telecommunications, in-house work for Price Costco Europe, Club Mirror, Financial Times Food Business, Chemical News & Intelligence, Farmers Weekly Interactive, Off-licence News, Independent Travel News, The Sunday Times, Convenience Store, Multiple Buyer and Retailer, Salon Business, The Grocer, Magazine Week, Press Gazette, Home & Family, editorial work for the Pet Care Trust and the Hair and Beauty Industry Authority,, Retail Week, Eurofood, Forecourt Retailer, Trucking International, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent, Retail Jeweller, Checkout, Total Business, World Finance, Estates Review, HomeLife, Salon Daily, corporate hotel and gardening centre magazines produced by Dexterous Media…and much, much more.

Also published under the pseudonym of Jason Andrews in The Independent and The Guardian.

What’s the most memorable work you’ve done?
There are so many, but I suppose my most memorable has to be the national press publicity I generated for my book Fathers Feel Too. (I think there may be a good PR in me somewhere!)

What interview or feature would you love the chance to do?
Feature: Coalition introduces life sentences for cruelty to animals.
Interview: Simon Cowell – but it would be difficult for me to resist singing for him. I have the X Factor…no I do…honest!

About you and PRs:

Where do you source ideas for articles?

How can PRs be useful to you?
Come up with great ideas that they offer to me on an exclusive basis. Anything that is really good will get picked up by me if it is on an exclusive basis.

How and when do you like them to get in touch?
Whenever they like but not between 4.30am and 7am when I am working against the clock daily.

Do you find press conferences, trips, parties and other events useful or an interruption?
I tend to be chained to my desk but will occasionally get out and about…it’s sometimes good to talk face to face.

If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
Please don’t get a junior to phone up and ask me if I’ve received your press release. If you sent it, I will have received it and if I’m interested, I’ll let you know.

About you:

How would you pay the bills if you weren’t a journalist?
I wouldn’t although in another life (perhaps if I ever retire) I would work in a parrot sanctuary.

If we gave you £1000, how would you spend it?
On a new play-stand for my parrot.

What books are on your bedside table, magazines in your bag, or blogs on your screen?
An Estonian book called Purge, a guide on time management, features sections from national newspapers I don’t get to read during the day, and the draft of the first chapters of a new book I’m writing, Meditation for Parrots. (I am serious – I consider myself a Parrot Whisperer).

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