The Time I Contemplated a Major PR Stunt


So here’s the thing: it turns out getting a job you actually want can be quite hard. Who knew? Well, all of us, I suppose. But there’s something quite different about pondering the world of unemployment from the security of your shared shithole at university, and actually living out the uncertainty in glorious technicolour.

I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen to me after I graduated, so I decided that my best option would be fleeing the country. This ended up as a sort of four-month-double-fleeing-spectacular, starting off with me working on a magazine in Edinburgh for a month and then tootling off to New York for three more to work at a newspaper. Both were totally brilliant in a number of ways, but were finite jobs that had an all too quick expiry date.

So a couple of days before Christmas, I came back to London. Over the festive period, I was still jet-lagged and high enough on mulled wine fumes to temporarily forget the overwhelming and crushing reality that I was sort of unemployed, or a ‘freelancer,’ as us wacky lot in the biz call it. Aren’t journalists a card.

And then some quite good things started happening, like me getting interviews for jobs that I wanted, and getting to the final rounds of grad schemes for major newspapers that I didn’t want, and then I got paid to do actual journalism for an actual company that was actually really good. That job may have only lasted a week, but getting paid for doing almost nothing and reading endless magazines was like a bloody holiday. Stella English, you don’t know what side your bread’s buttered, love.

Right so anyway, then that thing happened where the shit hits the fan and you end up getting a faecal facemask, and life was becoming annoying because I was mostly wearing velour (sometimes in PUBLIC) and just bumbling along not really achieving anything. I coped for about two weeks with the whole desperately-sending-emails-out-to-everyone-in-the-world shebang and then caved, because I am a human who is weak and needs money for overpriced sushi. So I took a job in a car parking appeals office and spent four days hating the world and everyone in it who was employed by people that weren’t thieving bastards making those whose elderly relatives had just died cough up £80 for parking a millimetre outside the allotted bay.

Within my four days of torture at the ticket place, where I know for a fact dreams go to die, I was thankfully offered a sort of mini-job at a newspaper. I think it’s a job because I do get actual money for it (although it’s pretty much pennies), but the gig only lasts for five weeks, which makes me unsure.

Anyway, there is a point to all this, or maybe several points, and they are coming very soon. In my new job type thingy, where I am sort of redoing a lot of work formerly done by other people, I decided to google what my predecessors were doing now. I did this because this is maybe what a journalist would do (I’m not entirely sure if I am one yet, although I’ve been paid enough times to make me think it hasn’t all been a weird banking accident). It is also maybe what a stalker would do, but sometimes I’m really not sure there’s a difference.

So I googled the guy and found a piece written by him on The Guardian’s website. This chappy had taken a load of business cards and doorstepped every national paper and big magazine company around over the space of a couple of weeks, handing them out to anyone who would take them. In the article, he said he had been offered two jobs that could ‘make him.’

This instantly reminded me of the grad who put his big old mug on a billboard and asked people to hire him. And then he got hired. So I started to wonder, were big PR stunts the only way to actually get recognised in the field? I thought writing for publications since the age of 13, being deputy editor of a magazine at 20, moving to New York at 21 and freelancing all the while for national newspapers et al might be worth something, but apparently I was very wrong. Billboards, my friends. They are the mark of a true genius.

In spite of my bitterness, I do sort of understand why employers would see the attraction of someone who job hunts batshit crazy style like the aforementioned two. I’m not exactly risk averse – in the last few months I’ve lived abroad illegally, moved in with random flatmates I found on Craigslist and narrowly avoided a lawsuit – but there’s something about these big LOOK AT ME statements that I’m not sure are quite my style.

I realised the other day that I sit right next to the editor of the paper’s office, and that if I were to do some kind of big weird gesture, he should probably be the recipient (for proximity reasons, mainly). I’m not really sure about this stunt malarkey, though. For some reason, the only thing I could think of was filling his office with peanuts, but that is quite a shit idea (although if he really loved peanuts he might be like ‘OMG peanuts? How did you know?!’, and then gobble them up excitedly. Or, die of an anaphylactic shock. It’s really hard to know what is fucking stupid and what is totally genius in relation to industrial sized quantities of salted nuts).

When I stopped thinking about the peanuts idea (how many bags of KPs would I need to fill the entire place? Etc etc), I did briefly muse upon the fact that both of the stunters, as I shall term them, were male. This may sound a bit trite, but given the news this week that female graduates earn far less than their male contemporaries, it sort of seemed to tie in. The main reason for the pay gap was that women would ask for far lower starting salaries, while men would value themselves higher. In short: they’re bolder, and it’s paying off for them. So maybe it’s time for women to start doing extroverted crap and being cocksure (sans the cock, heheheurgghh), because we deserve equal pay, and we shouldn’t be afraid to ask for it.

If only I could come to some kind of decision about the peanuts.


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