Amy Waddell campaigns for hearing loss to be recognised as a serious health condition
23rd January 2014
6.15am: My three alarm-calls, scheduled minutes apart and back-to-back, drag me out of bed (my mum’s always told me that I could sleep through an earthquake) and I pull on leggings, a hoody and my trainers for a run around Brockwell Park or Clapham Common.
7.15am: My flatmate, who I studied English with at Leeds Uni, usually books the shower for 7am so I jump in after her and get ready while listening to John Humphries – or whoever’s presenting the Today Programme – keeping my hairdryer time to a minimum in case I miss out on a news item that mentions deafness, older people or any other related conditions, like dementia, that we could tweet about or draft a response to.
7.45am: I wring the most out of my half hour journey from Brixton to Old Street; checking my personal and work emails and both @pressamy and @HearingLossPR Twitter accounts. Going into the tube, I pick up a copy of the Metro and whatever other free mag (Stylist, Shortlist, Time Out) is being handed out by the smiley man in the luminous yellow jacket outside Morley’s department store. My iPod is essential to kick-starting my day, although since starting at Action on Hearing Loss I’m much more conscious of how high the volume is when I listen to my Razorlight/Ed Sheeran/Beatles mash-up (Loud noise is one of the leading causes of hearing loss).
8.30am: While my desktop’s warming up, I make a cafetiere to drink with my cereal and check what meetings are in my calendar. Most of the other teams on my floor – marketing, digital, public policy and biomedical – filter in about 9am, along with the senior and PR officers. We catch up at our desks about what we’ve heard in the news, suggested tweets and what’s on our respective to-do lists that day.
9.30am: Every morning, PR collates and distributes the media coverage that we or our comms colleagues in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland have achieved. Regional press about our Hear to Help/Hear to Meet community services, offering practical advice and support for people with hearing loss and hearing-aid wearers, usually abounds alongside any national or trade coverage that we’ve pushed out in the past few days.
10.45am: This is my self-set deadline for getting any PR pieces into sign off, to offer colleagues as much time as possible to feed-back.
I’m often up and down from my desk, hovering over colleagues or knocking on the chief exec’s open-door to check an organisational stance, a statistic or flag sign off. The other week was digital activity and a press release publicising our campaign for John Lewis to subtitle their much-hyped Christmas advert and, a few days ago, it was an op ed from our Chief Exec about the stringent changes the Government is making to Access to Work, which could prevent deaf people from accessing vital communications support.
11.15am: Following our re-brand from RNID a few years ago and a new five year strategy, there’s a real drive to make hearing loss recognised as a serious health condition. Most days, some of my time supports my line manager, the head of marketing and communications, to deliver this moving forward: either interrogating our forthcoming brand campaign; facilitating strategic working groups; improving our bank of case studies; or developing the organisation’s PR strategy, policies and processes.
12.30pm: Although deafness rarely appears on the news agenda (something, having just been in my post a couple of months, I intend to change!) if a journalist is writing a piece then, as the UK’s largest hearing loss charity, we’ll usually receive a call. Picking up the phone to the Guardian, for a case study feature; from Vogue, to co-ordinate an interview with our in-house audiologist; or BBC Radio 4, to advise on a one-off programme, still gives me the same buzz and motivation that I got when I started out as a comms intern five years ago.
2.00pm: Most days, I’ll run out at lunchtime – if not to treat myself to sushi from Abokado, then just to grab some fresh air, before heading back to my desk for homemade salad, soup or Dahl.
3.30pm: The senior PR officer and I catch up to discuss one of the project’s he’s leading on, such as activity around upcoming Tinnitus Awareness Week; agreeing next steps on our commissioned public poll, follow-up on case studies and celebrity approaches, the potential press trip to our biomedical research lab. As well as product-placement of ear plugs, soother pillows and other tinnitus products that are available through our online shop.
4.30pm: The last hour or two of my day is spent wrapping up sign off, the day’s emails and looking ahead to tomorrow.
6.30pm: Action on Hearing Loss is a great place to work and really sociable, so I’ll sometimes squeeze in a drink with colleagues before getting the tube to Soho or down to Brixton Village to catch up with friends over dinner.
10.00pm: If my flatmate’s in and still up, we’ll debrief on the highs and lows of our days before bed and a book.
Amy Waddell, PR manager at Action for Hearing Loss