The Sun deputy travel editor Matt Hampton ruminates on a day in Heaven

CALL it payback if you will.

I just hoped it wasn’t of the Karmic variety, otherwise I was in for a day of phoning journalists to see whether they had received my press release. Every grumpy response I had given to this question may now be flung back at me as I try to cut it as a PR.

I had agreed to a day’s work experience with Heaven Publicity boss (God? Goddess?), Lynsey Devon. It was only fair: she had sent some of her staff to our office to intern now and then.

We usually asked them to do some light filing before getting stuck into something more interesting.
So with the first rule of PR ringing in my ears – “Don’t be late!”, I boarded a train to Heaven, ready for a day as the oldest intern in the world.

Unfortunately the Kingston service was delayed. Perhaps I’d be adding worst intern by the end of the day.
It turned out the Heaven girls (women? angels?) are far too pro to chase up press releases with a phone call – every journalist’s bête noire. But not so pro they didn’t make me endless cups of tea. Surely I should be doing that?
We began with the far reaching claws of Cision – the online journalist database – as well Heaven’s own terrifyingly organised lists of journalists. I learned who gets which release, which press trip invite, when their copy ran (if it ran) and the estimated value.

Also who has replied, who hasn’t… Architecture journalists are even worse than travel, it seems. You can build it, but they still might not come. Or even reply.

Jokes aside, Heaven organised trips for close to 350 journalists this year (myself included). That’s more than a lot of large tour operators manage.

Each trip, each event – even a simple lunch – takes masses of work. But the creative side of PR takes even more. This is the fine line between intuition – what you think a journalist needs to know – demand (from your client) and reaction – from those impatient hacks who need a response NOW (despite their own tardiness in replying to you).
There was a lot to learn in a day and I can’t claim to have taken it all in. But it was great to see what goes on behind the scenes and how some of my best contacts communicate on behalf of their clients.

I’d go back any day. And next time, I’ll make the tea.