I love my job. Being an IAM RoadSmart spokesperson can be a lot of fun. Much of the work is very spur of the moment, as we react to driving and road safety news stories as they break. No two days are ever the same!
As an example, a little while ago I was asked to go to London for a live lunch time news piece for one of our terrestrial channels to talk about mature drivers. The item was prompted by the outcome of a tragic court case the same day.
Before setting off, my thoughts were focussed on what to wear, as well as what to say during the interview. This was not just simple vanity at play - when appearing on television, you have to avoid anything green or with thin stripes, as they either make you not show up on screen at all or can play havoc with the cameras! Once settled on an outfit that I knew would work and put together all relevant background reading, I headed off.
I debated the idea of taking my car, as the television studio was a fair distance from my home in Wales. What happened if I was stuck in traffic? Could I chance being late as a result of having to drive through central London traffic. If I took my car, would there be a risk that my focus would not be 100% on the road as I thought about the interview?
I decided it was best to take the train for efficiency and ease. My train left at 8am, leaving me a few hours before the programme to do some focussed research. This ensured I was totally up to speed with IAMRoadSmart’s policy and latest thoughts on older drivers.
While I was on the train, my colleague Karen from our Comms team rang to ask if I would be able to do another live TV interview while I was in London. She needed me to get over to Millbank after my first interview for a different news programme on the same subject. Karen and I worked out the logistics and timing and before I knew it I was booked in for interview number two!
I arrived in London and made my way over to the ITV news studio where I was whisked straight into hair and makeup (many females reading this will understand the importance of this!), I was then taken to be placed in position by the production team and mic’d up. At this point the adrenaline set in and my heart started to pump a little faster, my breathing got a little shorter and then – in the blink of an eye – I was on camera chatting to the presenter.
When you work with the media, most of the time you don’t get to know the questions in advance, which can make the experience slightly daunting until you settle down in front of the camera. But knowing IAM RoadSmart’s opinion and agreeing with it makes things much easier. Confidence in your subject matter is critical, but so is making sure your speech is at the right speed and pitch and that your words are clear and concise.
In this instance, all went well and a few minutes later the interview was over, I was off air, being thanked by the producer and being gently but firmly guided out of the studio by the production team. Job done, now on to the next.
Then, while I was making my way over to the second appointment, my phone rang and Karen was asking if I could squeeze another interview in, this time for a regional BBC channel. The answer was yes, and now I was up to three.
Now I was sure I’d made the right decision of travelling by public transport rather than bringing my car. Driving through central London can sometimes be a stressful experience, and that’s the last thing I would want just before an interview.
When I arrived at interview number two, I was again taken into hair and makeup (for which I was very thankful. It was a very wet and windy in the capital). This interview was a “down the line interview” where you have a camera right in front of you and an ear piece to hear what the presenter is saying, but otherwise you are entirely on your own. This is not my favourite style of interview as I much prefer being able to interact with the person asking the questions. But once again, all went well and it was only a short time before I was making my way over to Broadcasting House for my third session of the day, this time a pre-record.
And then there was more. By the end of the day, with several more calls from Karen and discussions with various TV studio executives and another request for an interview from another channel, I completed five TV interviews that day. It was hard work, hugely tiring, my skin was complaining loudly after five lots of make-up, and there wasn’t a moment to spare throughout the day! But it was also hugely energising and I enjoyed every minute of it.
I hadn’t anticipated such a busy day, but I was grateful to be sat on a rather late train back to Wales. At IAM RoadSmart, we discourage driving tired, and I was exhausted.
Sitting comfortably on the train, I was able to sit back and reflect on everything. My thoughts soon turned to how I had portrayed IAM RoadSmart and how well I had covered the important issue of mature drivers, an issue that is so critical to our organisation. From all the positive comments I got from the team, our CEO and members the next day, I knew it was a job well done and I was ready for the next. I just needed a good night’s sleep first!
By Rebecca Ashton, IAM RoadSmart Policy and Research Campaigns Manager