Conor Goodman edits the Irish Times’ weekly culture supplement The Ticket which today is celebrating JNRS figures that show it is read by 238,000 souls nationwide. Our interview with Conor is essential reading for those who work in arts and entertainment PR.
How many PR approaches would you get in a normal week? What works for getting your attention?
I get a steady stream of emails and follow-up voicemails, very few of which are useful. It’s always a welcome relief to get a phone call, a well researched email, or a personally tailored message or letter from a person who can demonstrate expertise in the area they are working in, and who knows their media well enough to pitch me something they know I want.
How far in advance do you work on each issue?
Deadlines vary for different sections. Listings are prepared more than a week in advance; news goes on the day before publication. In theory, we get a good part of an issue done early so that it’s not a panic to change something at the last minute where necessary. But in practice journalists are a shambolic lot, and most of us leave everything till the last minute. It’s the only way to be sure we’re up to date.
Do PR folk ever have an influence on what gets cover stories for features? Or is it entirely an autonomous editorial decision?
It’s always an editorial decision. If we were influenced by PR, I think readers would notice, then we’d lose credibility, and then nobody would want to read our paper, and then PR people wouldn’t want to pitch stories to us, and the world would be a much sadder place.
Have music or film PR companies ever expressed issue with copy after it’s been published? How do you react to this?
Rarely. So rarely in fact, that I welcome it when it comes. Again, I respect public relations people who have intimate knowledge of the media they’re talking to, and a well made (and valid) complaint is a good indication of that. But don’t all start complaining now …
Is there anything journos have complained about re PR people, particularly in junkets?
Journalists love PR people and never ever complain about them. Ever. Honestly.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Watching people reading the paper on the train or bus home on Fridays.
If you weren’t editor of the Ticket what would you like to be?
Right now, a member of the Na’vi tribe from Avatar.
Who has been the best celebrity to interview? Why? And who’s been the worst?
Sadly, I don’t interview celebrities, just ask other people to do so and live vicariously through them.