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Working 9 To 5 As A…Press Officer

Aug 21, 2013

  By Jay Stone

I start my day like many people do – full of hatred for my alarm clock.
At the office, I turn on my computer, drink some strong coffee and start soaking up the morning news.  I’m the Press Officer for the HFEA – Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, it’s my job to know what’s happening in fertility research and treatment before it hits the papers. I pour over reports on fertility-associated research or articles voicing opinions concerning clinic regulation; I email the HFEA Authority members and staff detailing the pros and cons of any new research and listing the people on either side of a current debate.
Alongside press interest, I also answer questions from the general public; patients needing information about clinics, lawyers looking for guidance on consent, students wanting references for their reports etc.  It’s the volume and variety of topics that keeps my day busy and interesting, which is how I like it.
My working day is unpredictable – sometimes I spend all day in the office answering the phone, other times I’m meeting with other regulators or focus groups.  Things get hectic when an unexpected research paper is released to the media, causing a spark of press interest, which results in a sudden flood of calls from journalists asking what our thoughts are.   Journalists have very tight deadlines so any comments we give are usually required with an hour.
Having an unexpected and tight deadline can be stressful but I really enjoy it. In fact the days that catch me off guard are my favourite. I once heard someone describe a press officer as an adrenaline junkie who loves a crisis and is sure to have a twisted sense of humour. Based on myself and the others I know, I’d have to agree.
Leaving at 6ish, I remain stuck to my blackberry in case I am needed.  As this probably alludes to, spare time and I have never been properly introduced. Don’t get me wrong, if possible I will spend my time off lounging around in my PJs catching up on missed TV.  But because I moonlight as a science writer as well as volunteer for Science London as an event co-ordinator and ‘The Alt Entertainer’as a photographer, these PJ days rarely happen.
Jay Stone is the Press Officer for the HFEA.  You’ll most likely find her tapping away at her Blackberry or snapping some photos at a weirdly wonderful event.  Read Jay’s tweets here @JS_tone

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