Paul Downey – Charity PR and Freelance Sportswriter
BA (Hons) Sports Journalism (2007)
Before university - Newcastle under Lyme College, Newcastle under Lyme, Staffordshire
I am currently working full time as PR assistant at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice, a post I have been in for five months. The first month of the post was in a volunteer capacity, which turned into a paid position. I also work on weekends for the local newspaper The Sentinel, as a freelance non-league football reporter, a post I have held since 2008.
Before acquiring the post at the hospice I have undertaken a lot of freelance work and work experience at PR agencies, newspapers, local councils and full service agencies to gain vital experience to bulk up my CV and just as importantly, my portfolio. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a portfolio of your work when going to meet potential employers. My long term goal is to work in PR at a high capacity, whether at the hospice or somewhere else.
At the moment I am just enjoying the role, and learning as much as possible.
My course (sports journalism) was the first of its kind in the country, so the set-up was still quite fresh. The opportunity to flex my creative muscles throughout the course was the best part. When I first started the course I knew I wanted to be a writer in some capacity, but the course taught me discipline and how to tailor your writing to a particular audience. I also learned the art of writing articles, press releases and learning how to shout about yourself (an essential skill for the modern day writer). Also the support of particular lecturers like John Rafferty, were key to me digging in and working hard to graduate. I did doubt myself at times, but the lecturers were always around to talk about things even if they weren’t university related.
Also the elation of getting my first article published with a byline, was a really special feeling and something you never forget.
Albeit mine was for a lowbrow horror film magazine, it gave me the confidence to send my articles to more publications and websites.