I handed in my notice at the start of 2014, without confirmation of any replacement role.
Sound crazy? Maybe, but nothing is as crazy as the way my old job at a PR agency made me feel.
Since graduating from a journalism master’s course in 2012, my wish was to work in broadcasting and contribute to making great speech radio. That’s why I have this naff alias, Broadcast Belle.
To attain this dream, I undertook some unpaid work experience just before exam season at a radio station, but I began to quickly run out of money. A girl needs toiletries and payment for public transport so just before my last exam, I left radio and accepted a job at a PR agency, focusing on technology. Those who know me, recognise the incongruity between me, Winifred, and tech. If one looks at me, ‘tech fiend’ would not come to mind. They would be right, on the count of me not giving a damn about technology.
However I took the job and even managed – through some divine act of heaven-sent glory– to get promoted. Despite this, there was a persistent thought that niggled at my mind: ‘I don’t actually want to be doing this. Gat damn I want to be a journalist’.
This feeling only intensified after coming back from a placement at the Guardian, which I attended during some tactically taken holiday leave. The kind, wonderful, late Georgina Henry helped me obtain two weeks at the newspaper on the fashion desk, and introduced me to one of the network editors. I will be forever grateful to her, for her gentle, yet unwavering encouragement and help. She was a wonderful woman and one in a million.
After coming back from the plush offices at King’s Cross, I decided that I was going to live my truth. That truth and my mission was to be a journalist, no matter what. PR was not for me: the puffed up language, the meaningless terms (strategy, leverage, moving forward),
forcing ‘selling’ a story/angle/product that you have no interest in let alone the journalist you’re harassing.
Please believe that PR professionals deserve A LOT of respect – what I’ve just described is not easy, and work life balance is virtually non-existent in that world. The agency I worked at would be great for those who want to start and develop their PR careers. Some individuals thrive on being control freaks and making endless lists, but the low quality of life that came with a PR job was not for me. The radio editor who eventually took a chance on me said it sounded ‘soul destroying’. It was.
In pursuit of my journo ambitions, I juggled working well into the night for my PR job with pitching several newspapers to write original pieces. I eventually received a byline in the Independent online, and continue to contribute articles to this day. When I did get back in touch with the radio peeps, I realised that I’d have to devote weeks of experience in order to hopefully break through. So I quit my PR job for a crack at the BBC.
Handing in my notice without knowing where it was going to lead me felt cathartic, and sometimes that’s what you’ve got to do. When you live being true to yourself, there is less baggage to carry. I grew tired of hearing things that I didn’t believe in. No, digital is not the be all and end all of life. Most regular people don’t know what SoLoMo is, indeed, most people don’t care. We all have lives outside of the internet, thank goodness.
Try telling someone who cleans toilets or works in youth offending that social is the future or that cloud computing the best thing since sliced bread. Most people doing everyday jobs DO NOT CARE, and that’s where the problem lay for me: I did not want to be in an industry that wasn’t really providing some sort of public service. Being a journalist, I can talk to that toilet cleaner, or that youth worker and have a chance to tell their story and if not, then give them a story that resonates with them.
Many people probably think I’ve gone berserk, leaving PR for radio. Journalism is a difficult industry to break into, but I’m not in the habit of thinking negatively and I’m excellent at ignoring people who are not supportive or full of that green bile called jealousy. I have the self belief and determination to go far and it helps that I’m actually very good at turning my hand to nearly anything. There are opportunities and if you’re determined, you will get them. Look at me: I have now began my broadcast journey and gratefully, I haven’t looked back.
Be brave and honest with yourself. If something is making you unhappy, why stick with it? That is madness. Living your truth eventually pays dividends, through personal happiness and life satisfaction, and eventually if you’re lucky like me, payment :)
Broadcast Belle Fact: I came up with my alias after looking for a relevant, punchy name for anonymous blogging. It’s based on my love for radio and was inspired by the syllable count of one of my favourite bloggers, Fleet Street Fox.