Blog 4 minute read
Amy Dutton, press officer at Thames Water Utilities, has a busy schedule that ranges from quickly putting out information about a burst main, to arranging a mile-long trip through London’s Victorian sewers for Radio 1’s Scott Mills.
6.15am: My Blackberry wakes me up. I am the on-call press officer this week. A burst main in London is affecting customers’ water supplies. I liaise with the customer centre to get a customer notice on the website and dial in to the first conference call to get the latest information. I also form a reactive statement in case I get any media interest.
7.00am: I have my coffee fix and watch BBC Breakfast to stay abreast of the day’s news.
8.00am: Arrive just in time for the first corporate communications tea-round of the day – the team are always first in and last out! I do my first broadcast interviews on the burst main and update our Twitter profile, apologising for the inconvenience it is causing.
9.00am: We (Simon, Becky and I) have our morning huddle, washing up any outstanding media enquiries and updating each other on our priorities for the day. Today, Ofwat, our economic regulator announces the new billing charges for 2010/11. I update internal communications and the web team about our approach to the announcement.
9.30am: Ofwat has already issued its press notices. I run through our key messages in preparation for early interview bids about Thames Water’s new charges. Bills always attract media attention, despite Thames Water bills staying one of the lowest in the country.
9.45am: I check our Twitter profile and online mentions before writing up the daily media summary which is sent to most people in the business. I get a call from the Financial Times as it wants to feature our chief “sewer flusher” in Monday’s paper. He’s popular with the media and does interviews on a weekly basis, so is experienced enough to speak to the paper without me monitoring.
10.00am: I meet with two of my senior managers who’ve returned from a week-long trip to Tanzania. They witnessed how the £630,000 raised at our 2009 Love Water Ball is helping our principal charity, WaterAid, to expand its life-saving operations in East Africa. I kept their blogs and Flickr gallery updated while they were away. They tell me people have mobile phones but no clean running water – women had to walk more than 14km a day to fetch filthy water for their families to drink and wash in. I get tasked with deciding what to do media-wise with their video diaries.
10.45am: Next I arrange for Radio 1’s Scott Mills to do his Sport Relief mile in our sewers. I speak to his producer and arrange for him to recce the Victorian sewers in East London – I regularly visit Bazalgette’s 150-year-old sewers in London, which has earned me the name “sewer rat” by my closest friends!
11.15am: I have a meeting about sewer flooding. By 2015 we’ll be protecting nearly 2,500 customers’ homes from this horrible issue, so there are some big projects to promote. I get a response from Mango PR about doing some joint publicity with the runnymede hotel and spa around our London On Tap campaign. This is good news as I need a new story for the campaign website.
1.00pm: Tomorrow I am attending a court case, so I meet with the legal team to get up to speed on the issue. The burst in London has been repaired and I update customers and media via Twitter and the Thames Water website. Monthly report time next – we’ve taken over 200 reactive media calls this month already.
3.00pm: I prepare for a meeting on compulsory metering and go armed with a list of questions the media are likely to ask.
5.00pm: My colleagues have managed to get monthly evaluation reports included in our new media monitoring contract. I’ve wanted this for a long time as it will help us set SMART objectives for the next financial year.
6.00pm: Leave the office but take my laptop home – the peace and quiet of my flat gives me an opportunity to work out how we’re going to promote the Tanzania trip video.