A day in the life of Jamie Wyver, Consumer PR Executive for RSPB
8am – The day begins with our ‘Daily media summary’ which we take turns to write. I’m on the rota for today, so I’m in early to look through the daily national newspapers for stories that might be of interest to the rest of the organisation. One of our nature reserves featured on The One Show last night so I make sure that gets a mention. There are also some stories about charity law, climate change and pollution. At 8.55am I call our Conservation Director to brief him on what’s making the headlines, before sending the summary out by email to colleagues and posting it on our intranet.
9am – Before the office gets too busy and the meetings begin, I try to get some writing done. I’m usually working on three or four magazine features at any one time. One might be for a children’s publication, so I’ll be trying to bring out my inner seven year old discovering the joys of rock pooling. Another could be for a specialist birdwatching magazine, where I’m encouraging readers to help us look out for ‘screaming parties’ of swifts. Then there are the countryside lifestyle magazines, where I want to stimulate the reader’s love of nature but get some important conservation messages across too.
The emails start flowing. We get a lot of generic emails sent to a number of press offices and it’s always worth a read to see if there’s an opportunity for us. Not today though: “Are you a woman between the ages of 34 and 56 who may have been a viking in a past life? We want to tell your story in our magazine”. Someone wants to know which of our nature reserves contain weasels, and they need to know now, so I email my colleagues around the country to start gathering suggestions. We have over 200 reserves so requests like this can take time…
10am – In our team meeting we compare notes on what each of us is doing in the week ahead. We’re building up to promoting our Wild Challenge, which encourages families to take part in various nature activities. Then there are press trips to new nature reserves to organise, and the results of this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch to announce.
11am – I help out a few TV researchers looking for filming locations. Often they want to film very specific wildlife behaviours – a starling murmuration, or a great crested grebe’s courtship. I tell them we can’t ever promise the birds will do what they want, but I put them in touch with some of our local teams and nature reserve managers who can give them more advice. We often have to gently guide people who might be new to researching nature filming, for example explaining that they can’t get great shots of wild turtle doves at Christmas (unless they want to travel to West Africa).
12noon – We’re very lucky to be working in the middle of a nature reserve so on a sunny day there’s no excuse to stay indoors. I head out to see if the spotted flycatchers are back, and pop into our reserve shop to stock up on mealworms for my garden birds. On the way back there’s a chiffchaff singing, heralding spring.
One of the most useful things you can do as a media officer at an environmental charity is to get outdoors. I find it incredibly helpful to visit the nature reserves and landscapes I’m writing about and pitching to the media. It’s also what we’re always encouraging people to do – get outside, enjoy nature. What you write is so much more authentic when you’ve been out there, experiencing wildlife yourself.
1pm – I join the end of a “translocation” meeting. This is a regular catch-up with some of our ecology experts who are involved in giving some of our rarer species a hand returning to their former strongholds. We look at whether any of these stories are ready to pitch to the media yet. They’re not but it’s always useful learning for me, and having a good understanding of how these processes work is great for when I’m talking to journalists.
2pm – A magazine writer urgently needs images of curlews – immediately! I help her out with a selection from our online library, RSPB Images, and in return she agrees to mention our five year curlew conservation project. I’m now inundated with people offering me weasels. I get back to the researcher who asked the question, who says she’s very sorry, but her producer has decided he prefers stoats. They’re cooler because they change colour in winter, apparently. Also, she’s found some stoats to film, so the weasels can stand down. I email everyone to let them know.
3pm – I’m editing a 50 second film I shot on my smartphone, showing how the money raised by Birdfair, the annual nature festival we run with The Wildlife Trusts, is helping conservation. While a lot of our work revolves around magazines and TV, our team also produce ‘agile content’, videos that can be produced quickly to use on social media. It’s a different way of telling a story and one that many people seem to prefer.
4pm – The weasels keep coming. I’m even getting photos of the weasels, some good, some not so much. I start a weasel folder, and store the emails for later. Hopefully I’ll be able to do something with this information at some point in the future! I forward an interesting news story to our national magazine contacts. We often pick up regional press releases from our colleagues and forward them on: this one’s a lovely conservation success story with natterjack toads increasing on one of our Scottish reserves, Mersehead. The title includes the phrase ‘Toad-al success”, which I think will make people smile.
5pm – I’m heading home excited for the next day, when I’ll be out with a film crew looking for woodpeckers. I hear one of them drumming at the top of a tree as I leave the office. Spring is on the way and nature is getting ready. How brilliant that I get to spend my day sharing wildlife with the world. If we can get people to love nature as much as we do, then surely we stand a good chance of saving it.
Find out more about the RSPB’s work here: www.rspb.org.uk/our-work