A Day in the Life of a Press Officer
Have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes in the press office at equestrian events? Here Victoria Spicer, official Press Officer for the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead, covers just that. Victoria writes on what to expect on a typical day in the office, enjoyable aspects and how she got to where she is today.
My name is Victoria Spicer and I’m the Press Officer for the All England Jumping Course at Hickstead. I’ve held this position since 2011. Throughout the year my role involves writing press releases, answering press enquiries, producing articles and updating the website and social media.
- A typical day
Most of the year I work from home, but for two weeks a year (the Equestrian.com Derby Meeting in June and the Longines Royal International Horse Show in July) I am based at Hickstead, where I man the press office from morning until night! Fortunately, I’m joined during the shows by a great team of people in the press office, all of whom have a wealth of showjumping, media and PR experience.
We open the press office at 8am, by which time there is normally a small queue of keen photographers desperate to get in and get started! From there it’s all a blur of welcoming members of the press, producing start lists and biographies, updating the website, liaising with our television crews, taking press cuttings, answering enquiries and writing news stories and press releases. I have one member of the team who focuses on all our social media, and another who sends out news stories to the local press. We have lunch on the go, and tend to finish around 8pm or 9pm at night, when the daily newsletter has been sent out to thousands of Hickstead visitors and competitors, reviewing the day’s action. Then it’s home to catch up on sleep before we do it all again the next day!
- Enjoyable aspects
All of it is enjoyable – and that’s not just PR spin! I’m really lucky to work with a fabulous team at Hickstead – I’m really grateful to Lizzie Bunn and all the Hickstead directors for giving me such a great opportunity more than six years ago, and I have to say the Bunn family is wonderful to work for. I get to meet all my equestrian heroes as part of my job, and horse sport doesn’t get any better than at Hickstead. People know about the Equestrian.com Derby, the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup and the Longines King George V Gold Cup – they are all famous, iconic classes that have been a major part of showjumping’s history, and this makes my job much easier.
I’ve got a MA (Hons) in English Literature from Edinburgh, but that wasn’t really a requisite! What was more important was that I’d spend three years working at Horse & Hound and a further three as Deputy Editor of Horse magazine, which was a brilliant grounding in equestrian media. I was lucky to work for former H&H Editor Lucy Higginson, who taught me an awful lot and gave me my first break in the equestrian media.
A Press Officer’s role has really changed in recent years. It used to be predominantly about liaising with journalists – now you need to be technologically savvy, a social media whizz and a good writer, as well as keeping the members of the press happy!
- Equipment needed
We have a custom-built press office at Hickstead with wifi, phone lines and lockers. So all I really need is my laptop, contact lists and a notepad!
- Item you couldn’t do without
It’s not an item but a person – you need to have a brilliant social media expert, which I’m fortunate to have at Hickstead during the shows. You’re not just communicating with your event’s fans, you’re representing the company, and I’m a stickler for good grammar and spelling on Hickstead’s social media. So the social media person needs to be a brilliant writer, a multi-tasker, super organised, funny, accurate, interesting and inventive. It’s not an easy task by any means!
- Societies/organisations signed to
I’m a member of BEWA (British Equestrian Writers Association)
- A moment in time you’ll always remember
There’s been some great moments in my time at Hickstead, but it doesn’t get much better than the Derby. It creates such amazing stories – from Tina Fletcher becoming the first woman in nearly 40 years to win the Derby during my first season at Hickstead in 2011, to Paul Beecher jumping a clear round from the first draw in the Derby in 2012, to Trevor Breen finally winning in 2014 with the one-eyed wonder horse, Adventure De Kannan, having come so close. He was really emotional, and you could really sense how much it meant to him. And the one-eyed horse angle meant lots of great press coverage!
To read more on Victoria Spicer, please visit her website www.victoriaspicer.co.uk