My introduction to Paperight happened fairly haphazardly, as all fantastic things do. While helping out at a book launch for the Bay Bookshop in the Cape Quarter, I was having a well earned glass of wine and chatting to a librarian from the Cape Town Central Library and a creative writing lecturer from UCT. Both were inquiring about my next career step- as everybody seems to do with young people. Admittedly I had no idea, although I managed to say that I might be interested in finding a job in publishing. Paperight was mentioned as this great new publishing start up and once I did some research, I was sure that I’d found the best place to really test my mettle.
The interviewing process was nerve-racking only because I’d already made up my mind that I wanted to be on this team. Nick and Yazeed made my first interview incredibly welcoming, but sitting in the meeting room in front of 7 people and trying to be the best ‘me’ possible (while balancing precariously on an exercise ball) made me very anxious.
But in the end, I got the job!
My role at Paperight started as a Marketing and PR Intern with my main priorities being to assist Nick and Yazeed with their burgeoning workloads.
I would have to describe my plunge into the deep end as both exhilarating and utterly frightening. The sheer number of programs I needed to download, along with online apps that I suddenly needed to learn to use left me feeling intimidated and wondering if I may have bitten off more than I could chew. However, I coped and eventually learned to type my queries to the team through Skype instead of asking them out loud (a real challenge) and started to wrap my head around what a company wiki is and how to use the back end of WordPress.com sites- among so many other things.
My first assignment was to collate a media list for Paperight to take over their own PR output from Nichole Sochen of Al Dente PR. I started by downloading a .pdf copy of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) media list before copy-pasting useful contact details into a Google Docs spreadsheet while also coming up with a system for housing this kind of information. I also backtracked through the Paperight record of media mentions to gather contact details of journalists and publications who had already featured Paperight’s work – the Paperight fan club, if you will.
The initial brief was to fill five separate categories of media contacts, namely Technology, Entrepreneurship, Education, Books and Literature Pages, and Human and General Interest. After trying to work with these categories for the first 2 months or so, I found them wholly useless and have abandoned using them since. However, I can imagine they would be helpful to those encountering the media list for the first time and not the umpteenth. :)
For every press release, a copy of the master sheet is made and all details of the release are recorded, for example who it is sent to, the date and which emails come back as undelivered. All of this information assists with follow ups and maintenance of the contact list.
From Nick’s side, I took over the responsibility of drafting most of our written output. This included, the weekly newsletter, blog posts, press releases and cover letters. My drafts would then be handed onto Nick for final editing to benefit from his keen journalistic eye and seasoned understanding of Paperight’s distinct brand image.
From Yazeed’s side, I assisted with the on-boarding process of new outlets (welcoming them, advising them on how to use Paperight.com and adding them to the outlet map), follow-ups with and support of old outlets, as well as initiating a small number of new outlet sign-ups.
These responsibilities became regular, weekly tasks over my first three months with the Paperight team. Specific projects during this time have been split into the months they occurred so read on to find out more!