By Anna Croft and Tiegan Edwards (Future Journalists Elective students)
Seven students on the Future Journalists Elective course managed to put their interviewing skills to the test and grab an exclusive with BBC Sports Publicist Michelle Eagleton.
Dressed casually and seated in the foyer of Quay House, MediaCityUK, Michelle delved into her extensive career in journalism and public relations.
A lover of the BBC, Michelle wanted to work for such a highly regarded organisation since she was young.
“I’ve always felt proud of the BBC,” she began, “they always keep to such a high quality of product - their output is just outstanding! They keep to their morals to inform, educate and entertain and I think they never falter in doing so.”
Michelle began her career “at the bottom”, at 18 years old when she volunteered to help at North Manchester General Hospital’s radio station. Her job was to walk the wards and ask for song requests, and within six months she had her own show, which after speaking with Michelle and hearing her enthusiasm for journalism, isn’t surprising.
“Working at Manchester General, I learnt really valuable skills that I’ve taken with me throughout my career. I learnt to present and got access to a great platform and technical equipment,” Michelle explained.
Michelle then bypassed local radio and spring-boarded into working for the Guardian and Independent Radio News. Her roles were supplying news for commercial radio such as Wire FM, Capital and WishFM as well as delivering news bulletins and going out on interviews.
“Working as an entertainment reporter was by far one of the most exciting times in my career,” she said in awe, leaning towards us and getting comfortable. “I got to interview some of my all-time heroes - I got to meet Cher, The Spice Girls and David Beckham. I was star stuck!”
Her big break, however, came through Channel M, the TV channel that Michelle became one of the main anchors for. “Channel M was a great experience for me in the short time in which I was a part of it,” she reminisced. “I got experience in presenting both serious news and more light-hearted stories, as well as the more tabloid celebrity drama that everyone secretly loves!”
After being a part of Channel M for three years, Michelle’s attention turned to a slightly different aspect of journalistic life – public relations. She described journalism and PR as “similar beasts”, and it gave her the final boost she needed to jump feet first into a life working for the BBC.
“Journalism and public relations both require similar skills,” she gestured, using her hands to make a point, “so that’s how I moved into PR for the BBC, particularly sporting events.”
Michelle’s current role sees her promoting BBC sport events, but she insists that she still has to “think like a journalist.” She explained, “I have to speak to many different journalists and media outlets to convince them to come to our events. I organise red carpets and press conferences, and any sporting stories have to go through me”.