A love of writing can take you in so many different directions, as April Grenfell discovered. From newspaper journalism, to PR, corporate writing, tender writing, and even a bit of freelancing, April has experienced every side of the media.
We chat to April about finding an interesting angle, beating writer’s block, dealing with people in the media and her current job involving prisoners.
Tell me about your background…
My background has been quite diverse, starting with journalism, then PR, followed by corporate writing and tender writing.
I began my career as a newspaper journalist at the Ballarat Courier after completing a Bachelor of Arts/Journalism degree. Three years later I moved to the Gold Coast where I worked as a general news reporter for the Gold Coast Sun and advertorial/feature writing for the Gold Coast Bulletin. I also did a stint with the Tweed Daily News but decided I needed a career change.
I moved to Melbourne where I got a job as a report writer working on major government infrastructure projects. This involved a lot of technical writing and public relations.
After this three-year role I returned to print journalism as a reporter at a magazine in Geelong. I also worked as a public relations officer on a part time basis for a large not-for-profit organisation in Geelong. In 2012 the magazine I worked for closed down and I decided to work as a freelancer and started a copywriting business called The Write Pen focusing primarily on small business needs.
Although I worked on this business venture for only six months, it proved quite successful and I still have clients that I work for. I decided that working for myself was not for me and I got another job in a completely new field – tender writing. I am now a bid specialist for a global company and am based at their Australian head office in Melbourne. It is the largest private company in the world with 618,000 employees worldwide and I absolutely love working for the company as a writer specialising in writing, editing and designing bids for major contracts in Australia, NZ and Asia Pacific. It is completely different from previous career as a journalist but a lot of the skills cross over such as the ability to write and meet very tight deadlines.
Have you always loved writing?
Yes. I was a big reader when I was growing up and I loved writing stories and poems. I seemed to have a talent for English and literature throughout high school so I guess naturally a career in writing would follow.
Why did you leave journalism?
I left journalism as it was extremely high pressure. I did, however, enjoy meeting a lot of different people in the community and experiencing different events. Journalism allows you to learn so much and experience many different aspects of society you wouldn’t otherwise.
What does your new job entail?
My new role involves writing and editing quality tender submissions with the aim of winning significant multi-million-dollar contracts. The company specialises in security, non-emergency patient transport and custodial services, so my work is diverse. I work across all business units but I primarily specialise in custodial services, so anything to do with managing and operating prisons, prisoner transport or electronic monitoring of prisoners. It’s a very interesting role.
From a content point of view, do you think journalists have an edge when it comes to writing cool words?
Most are well read so they are definitely good with words! They know how to portray an interesting angle or concept so that it appeals to the reader/target audience.
Why should it always be about the story first and foremost?
The story is what grabs people’s attention. Journalists have a nose for good news stories… they can see outside the square and look at really good angles that can help sell or promote a product or event. This is really helpful for businesses. Journalists have the ability to tell a story in an interesting way.
How do you find a good story angle?
You just need to think outside the square… what is the most interesting part of the story? What would grab a reader’s attention?
Why are headlines important for blogs and even newsletters or web pages?
They catch the reader’s attention. Plain and simple.
What would be your number one tip when it comes to writing?
When in doubt, leave it out! And if you get writer’s block, walk away (grab a drink or go outside) and come back and the words will come to you.
What would be your hot tip when people are dealing with the media?
Positive spin! Form positive relationships with reporters and others in the media and let them know well in advance if you have an event or something in particular you would like to promote. The media works to tight deadlines so it is imperative to get in touch with them as early as possible if you want publicity (preferably free publicity!).