Interview: Nadia Gilani

The press officer at OnePlusOne, the research charity that focuses on strengthening relationships, talks about making the transition from journalism to PR and the importance of reacting quickly to breaking news

Gilani says journalists will approach PRs if they build a reputation for delivering to deadline
Gilani says journalists will approach PRs if they build a reputation for delivering to deadline

What is your role?

I started here four months ago after eight years as a reporter. When I worked in newspapers, my favourite PRs were ex-journalists, so I felt confident I'd be suited to a press officer role. We want OnePlusOne to be the go-to place for journalists writing about relationships, so I'm helping to build the charity's profile.

How can a small charity get noticed?

Drop everything for a query; respond on the go. I've drafted lines while on buses and at parties, and taken calls soon after waking up at the weekend. Journalists will come to you if you're known for delivering to deadline. We also trawl papers, TV and radio every day for relevant breaking stories that we can comment on. For example, we quickly sent out a comment on "co-parenting" when the Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin "conscious uncoupling" story broke.

What success have you had with campaigns?

Our story about parental conflict in January smashed our media targets.

It was featured in more than 100 nationals and regionals, and on dozens of radio stations. I actually had the research for a month with no idea how to pitch it - I couldn't find a killer hook until the top line came to me at 2am in bed. I learned that it pays to let things germinate, whereas the journalist in me sometimes wants to rush things.

What advice do you have for people who are making the transition from journalism to PR?

Be prepared for it to be very different. It's hugely creative: where before you were writing the news, now you're thinking about how to make it. You're on your own as a journalist, but PR is more collaborative. You'll need to grow a thick skin because sometimes you'll be ignored, though most journalists will have taken care of that early on.

I think it's still important to approach everything as a journalist by thinking about things in terms of headlines and about how a story might look on the page.

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