Journalists set up Facebook group to help freelances get paid celebrity interview work after '1/3 on benefits' report

Freelance celebrity interview writers can now join a Facebook group that will connect them with publicists to the stars for free to help them get paid commissions.

The Celebrity Interview Club was set up following Press Gazette’s report on an NCTJ survey that revealed a third of freelance journalists in the UK were forced to claim state benefits.

The group was founded by freelance journalists Donna Ferguson and Sarah Ewing, both of whom written for national newspapers including the Times and Guardian, with former Daily Mail showbiz editor Nicole Lampert also helping to run it.

Ferguson told Press Gazette: “Well-known celebrity directories charge freelance journalists hundreds of pounds to get access to the contact details of celebrity publicists.

“But the publicists themselves are always keen to speak to national celebrity journalists with interview slots to fill. That is, after all, the whole point of their job.

“It occurred to me that a free messaging group that connects freelance journalists with publicists would be very useful for everyone concerned, and hopefully help a few more freelancers to earn a decent crust.”

Ewing added: “Our aim with this group is to make it easier and quicker for freelance journalists and PRs to reach a targeted audience for their requests or clients and celebrity campaigns.

“Everyone in the media industry is under so much pressure right now – so anything we can do to help make things run that bit smoother is worth it.”

It works by allowing PR members of the group to post messages about celebrity interview opportunities they can offer journalists, while freelance journalists can post messages about the interview slots they cover for national newspapers and magazines and the celebrities they would like to interview.

The group is closed so that only Facebook users who have been approved as members can view the posts and, at present, editors and staff writers are not allowed to join.

Commissioning editors offering paid work can however contact the group by messaging its administrators (Ewing and Ferguson) who will repost messages in full to members.

A handful of TV presenters and actors are said to have already joined the group to offer themselves up as interviewees.

Lampert said: “This is a great way for PRs and journalists to mingle and share ideas electronically. It works for experienced professionals who want to widen their net and we have also had lots of interest from charities with celebrity patrons.

“It’s such a good idea, we’ve all been wondering why we didn’t think of it before.”

Picture: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch 

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