Guild Member Amy Jackson, of agricultural communications business Oxtale, explains why its important to immerse yourself in the subject you’re writing about – even if that means going to strange meetings in the depths of a Finnish forest.
Describe your job in a sentence:
Part-time issues and crisis management for a range of clients in mainly farm livestock sectors, part-time PhD student studying how consumers perceive the way we look after our dairy cows and why.
How did you get to where you are today?
I sometimes wonder! Started in farming, landed a job in a cattle breeding company where I had to write a member newsletter and didn’t have a clue, so went on the GAJ course (encouraged by the excellent Emma Penny) with a placement at Agrafax, was then offered a job there, and the rest, as they say, is history! Oh – had some great experience at a big international PR company along the way. Never underestimate the value of stepping outside the industry so you can see it from another angle.
What’s an average day at Oxtale Communications?
Perpetually juggling, talking on the phone, writing, reading reports and keeping plates spinning. And a dog walk.
Where’s the strangest place your job’s taken you?
A paper mill in the depths of a Finnish forest, where we had a very strange meeting, then went home. My big regret was staying in a great hotel in Helsinki the night before but not getting up early enough to use the en-suite sauna.
What’s the toughest thing you’ve ever written about?
Nothing in farming, bizarrely, but I was asked to help someone I knew whose sister-in-law had been killed by a roadside device in Afghanistan. The family needed support handling the media so working with them and the police to prepare statements was pretty harrowing and rather surreal.
What’s the best thing about working in agriculture?
Not everyone can do it. When you work in business-to-business or corporate or issues PR, you get used to dealing with clients from the world of car paints or technology or razor blades…people think they can dip into agriculture in the same way. They can’t – you really need to immerse yourself in it. As my boss years ago used to say, you have to know your heifers from your gilts, and your leptospirosis from your rhynchosporium!
How tidy is your desk?
If you had to write about something other than agriculture, what would it be?
Behavioural science and nudge theory
What tools are essential for your job?
Phone, laptop, usual. And my CowParade KarmaCow to keep me calm.
Tell us something not many people know about you?
I have a Heavy Goods Vehicle licence.
Jackson in a jiffy:
Favourite biscuit: Jaffa cake (….or is it a biscuit?)
A website where can you easily waste an hour: eBay. Sadly.
Last book you read: Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
One thing you’re better at than anyone else: Being persistent and annoying
Best song to dance to like no one’s watching: Walk this Way by Aerosmith & Run DMC
Facebook or Twitter: Twitter 100%
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