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Q & A: Insider Insight with Sally Arthy, Senior Editor, Sky News

Shout! Communications
Shout! Communications
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Sally has enjoyed a long career at Sky News, during which time she has set up the broadcaster’s Ireland bureau and was head of Sky’s bureau in Washington.  She was part of the select media press pack that accompanied the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their recent trip to India and is currently planning Sky’s coverage of the US election.

Q. How did you get involved with Journalism?

My first TV job was for ITV London News, in their Dartford Office. Not the most glamorous start but I’ve since worked for APTN and Sky News in Dublin and Washington. I’m now London based but travel abroad extensively. I was on the Royal tour with William and Kate recently which was a brilliant experience. I’m now working on the US Elections and of course the BREXIT fall out.

I really enjoy my job! Sky News is the RTS (Royal Television Society) News Channel of the Year for the second year running. Our reporting on last year’s terror attack on tourists in Tunisia, which I was also involved with, won the RTS News Coverage, International award.

Q. What are your favourite career highlights?

I’ve been involved in so many stories it’s hard to choose.   Covering the Obama election has got to be one of them though, from the announcement that he was running for President on a very cold, winter’s day in Springfield, Illinois in 2007, through to his election victory speech in Grant Park Chicago in November 2008 and his inauguration in Washington DC the next year.

There was also the Chilean miners rescue story, that was chilling and heart warming at the same time. And I’ll never forget the last ever shuttle launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

Q. How difficult is it to get a PR story on Sky News?

In normal circumstances there is probably the most appetite for PR led stories on Sky News Sunrise. Early morning slots are slightly less competitive for air time so as long a big story hasn’t broken through the night you’ve got the best chance at this time. Embargo your story until a minute past midnight and then we know we can run it at any point. The sorts of stories we really like are the ones you’d be talking about in the pub and our interviews are always live. My top tip is don’t forget online. It may not make air but our mobile service is highly watched.

Q. What are the things you dread hearing from a PR?

‘Have you got a spare ten minutes for me to talk through a story’! Those words fill me with dread. We’re so busy on the new desk that we need you to be able sum up the story in a sentence. We also need to know who’s available, what can we film and where.

‘We’ve got a great celebrity’. The guest needs to be relevant to the story not just a celebrity who is being paid to endorse a brand. We have to adhere to OFCOM’s rules which if we break can lead to a hefty fine.

Q. So how can you get around OFCOM?

Have a look at their broadcasting code, particularly section 9. It’s fierce. But there are some exceptions for news programmes particularly when it comes to sport and film. You’ve seen the big boards at premieres and post matches with loads of different brands, that’s one way for a start.

Q. What if you’ve got a breaking news story. Who is it best to contact?

Always the news desk, or if it is a business story then our business desk. We’re manned 24/7 so there’s always someone to talk to.

Call first and then follow up with an e-mail. If you have a heads up – even if it is a couple of lines – with a guest offer send it over to us. For stories like Brexit, though, we are overwhelmed with interviewees so don’t be surprised if no one comes back to you. Don’t keep re-sending it we’ve got it!

Sally Arthy was talking to Shout! Communications Joint Managing Director, Catherine Bayfield. 

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