In the third part of our series looking at the future of the press with board members of the London Press Club (LPC), Gorkana’s Ronan George talks to Robert Jobson, director of the LPC, joint chairman of London Press Club Ball 2016 and royal editor at the London Evening Standard, about organising the LPC ball, the importance of socialising in journalism and why the fundamental skills of a journalist will never change.
You have responsibility for the London Press Club’s prestigious annual ball – one of the organisation’s main events. Firstly, how are you coping with the pressure and where will this year’s event be held?
I am joint chairman of the London Press Club Ball along with my good friend and colleague Ray Massey. This will be our third year running the annual event, which is the social highlight of the press and media year.
What makes a great and memorable ball?
I think the people. A chance to meet up with new and old colleagues. There are no other awards that offers a chance for journalists, executives and PRs to let their hair down and have a great time. Our sponsors Jaguar Land Rover, Qatar Airways, EasyJet, Givergy, British Airways, The Money Shop to name but a few, and our media partners, make this event special.
Their support is invaluable as is the support of all those who donate prizes to the auction and the raffle. The entertainment is first class too and the champagne certainly flows.
Once again we are holding the event at the Victoria and Albert Museum on 13 October which is a truly special venue. Our event organisers, Relish, handle all sponsorship and ticket inquiries. Please speak to Jenna George on: 0845 450 4195, firstname.lastname@example.org, Relish Events, 131-151 Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 5BB.
What makes the press club’s ball so special and a highlight of the year?
Again I think it is the interaction of the people. This is not an awards event. We want it to be the best media networking event of the year – which it is – as well as a chance for the media and PRs to let their hair down and have a great time. Also, the important thing to remember about the London Press Club Ball is it raises money for the Journalists’ Charity – this past year we raised £30,000 on the night.
It is often said the traditional view of journalists and journalism doesn’t fit the reality of today. How important is it for journalists to socialise and attend these sorts of events?
I think it is crucial with so much emphasis on digital media that journalists get out and meet people. Those relationships forged over a glass of champagne when people are just being themselves are worth a thousand press releases.
You are also royal editor of the London Evening Standard and have been following the royal family for a number of years. What have has been your highlight – and lowlight – in your time in this role?
There have been many highlights for me in my 25 years as a royal correspondent. I have travelled the world on official tours – there are not many places I haven’t been. Climbing the Himalayas on a charity trek with Fergie was amazing, as was breaking the world exclusive that Prince Charles and Camilla were to wed. I’ve worked as an adviser and appeared in The Royals on E! TV show, as myself, for two series which has been fun. More recently, I broke the story that Harry was quitting the army which made headlines around the world.
The low point was obviously the death of Her Royal Highness the Princess of Wales. Such a tragic waste of a truly inspirational person.
How has the relationship between the press and the royal family changed during your career and how do you foresee it developing in the future?
The media relationship with the royals has changed dramatically over the years. In the past it was the norm for the press to cover private holdings – skiing or beach breaks – as well as official visits. Privacy changes has meant that no longer happens. I think the death of Diana was a tragic and significant moment. The press had to change and did. Although in my opinion the phone hacking inquiry and other privacy beaches put the press on the back foot. I believe the relationship has improved in recent years.
Do you have anything special planned to mark HM The Queen’s 90th birthday?
I am writing a commemorative book for the Royal Commonwealth Society to mark the event and will be covering it for TV and the Standard.
Do you have much interaction with PRs in your role? Or is it just with the key royal press secretaries? How has the royal family’s approach to PR changed in the last few years?
Only in my role as joint chair of the London Press Club Ball. Mostly I deal with contacts I have known for years and the royal household.
What are the dos and don’ts for PRs wishing to get in touch with you?
There are no dos and don’ts. If anyone wants to reach me I am happy to help. My Twitter is @theroyaleditor . They can contact me directly.
There has been major upheaval in the journalism world over the last ten years. What skills should aspiring journalists be armed with to flourish in their careers? What skills does a great royal reporter, or editor, need in particular?
I don’t think the skills of a journalist have changed. The ability to nurture and protect contacts. The ability to spot and see through a story. They are at the core of what any journalist – royal correspondent of otherwise – need to succeed. It doesn’t matter now whether you break the story in the press, on TV or elsewhere. The key remains get it right and get it first.
Robert Jobson is royal editor at the London Evening Standard, joint chairman of London Press Club Ball 2016 and director of The London Press Club.
The Club provides opportunities for journalists and others interested in the media to meet and learn of new developments, debate the latest issues and explore our collective past as communicators. It runs a range of regular events from networking drinks, sponsored by Gorkana, to discussions on matters of importance not only to journalism, but to the furtherance and protection of free speech throughout the world.
Robert Jobson was talking to Gorkana’s Ronan George.