Five minutes with… Joanne O’Connell

Five minutes with… Joanne O’Connell

We caught up with Jo, leading national freelancer and founder of, to get her views on what makes a great legal PR…

What in your opinion makes a good PR contact?
Employment lawyers and HR professionals have a lot of demands on their time and journalists often work towards tight deadlines. So a good PR contact can make everything easier if he or she is really responsive. This means quickly setting up interviews/passing on information. If a PR can do some of the legwork – sending over background information, photos, etc. – that’s helpful too. And a really brilliant PR will also be able to suggest relevant stories, based on the issues/views that their client is an expert on/about.

Where do you generally go to get ideas for stories?
Lots of places. As well as editing, I write for the money and careers sections of the Guardian. So, I’m always listening to stories about people’s jobs and keeping an eye on future trends in the workplace. Some of the best ideas for come from its writers – a wide range of employment lawyers, up and down the country, who are advising employers and employees on a daily basis.

What are the hot employment law issues at the moment?
There are so many, from the impact that Brexit will have on the economy, the labour market and employment law, to the huge challenges of the rapidly emerging gig-economy, with number of self-employed people dramatically increasing, and many on zero-hours contracts. Employment tribunal fees and a lack of access to justice is another very important issue. And don’t even get me started on robots taking over the workplace…

How valuable is it to have quick access to trained spokespeople who can respond with comment and opinion?
Invaluable. These can be complex subjects. is all about leading the way on accurate, accessible articles, written by experts in their field.

What makes a good story for you and how important is decent photography?
For me, it’s about intelligent analysis and discussion. News is everywhere (and can be fast and news-breaking) but the best stories look at the issues in depth, with lawyers bringing the benefit of their experience and sharing their thoughtful analysis with readers. Photography helps make a publication look appealing and eye-catching images work well in terms of sharing pieces on social media too.

Can you describe a typical ‘employment solicitor’ reader?
Busy, intelligent, professionals, looking for relevant, accessible, up-to-date news, features and thought-provoking opinions on employment law.

Posted: 18 October 2016

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