I understand why, in an age of digital overload, very few of us read the weekend papers quite as avidly as we used to – when lounging about on the living room floor, surrounded by supplements, was considered the ideal way to spend a Sunday.
I also get why even fewer of us are dedicated readers of just one newspaper; instead, flicking between apps, to read the news on The Guardian, nipping to the FT to read the travel features, opening The Times to scan what its columnists are saying, and then checking out long reads in The New York Times.
But given that the jobs of PRs is to get journalists to write about their clients in the papers, I’m often shocked by how few seem to actually read broadsheets at all.
I meet PRs three to four times a week, first thing in the morning (which leaves me the rest of the day to do my job in The Times office, or at my desk at home, without endlessly having to nip out to meetings). Being a journalist, the topic with which I often start a conversation over coffee is something I’ve read about in the past few days. Yet what I often get back is a blank stare, and a slightly embarrassed confession: “I’m sorry, I haven’t had a chance to read the papers recently.”
If you are a half-decent PR, then not only should you be reading every publication in the UK, but you should know even better than I do what’s in them. After all, you need to know which publication is doing what, and in which section. You need to know which journalists are covering which patches. And you need to know whether someone else has already covered what you are about to propose to me.
I know: there is an awful lot to read – and that trawling through papers is not what you might want to be doing on a Sunday evening or at dawn on Monday. But if I have to, then, sorry, you do too.