Sometimes you meet someone you just love working with.
That’s certainly been the case with the lovely Alison Pratt, pictured, the regional communications adviser for the National Farmers’ Union in the East Midlands.
She retires today after (cough, cough – it runs into decades) working for the NFU. And by God she has earned it.
We have worked together on many occasions when I have provided media training for Alison, in particular on the Farming Ambassadors course.
Every major topic affecting agriculture – dominated of course by Brexit, we covered them all and grilled farmers in radio and TV interviews to get them confident and prepared for media interviews.
I’ve done the same with Alison’s colleagues across the UK.
We journalists are a sceptical lot, but I have to say I am constantly impressed with the pro-active stance the NFU takes with media relations – just this last week they have worked with just about every media outlet available on the NFU’s national drought summit.
I’ve learnt a lot from working with the farming community – sometime journalists can be guilty of not knowing their stuff – and I now reckon I could hold my own in a discussion about badgers, the use of pesticides and fly-tipping – so thanks NFU!
And I know from their great response to my coaching that they’ve learnt a lot from me.
During my training sessions I always warn about the ‘curveball’ question – one journalists are likely to throw, and quite often at the end of an interview.
The purpose is to throw an interviewee off their balance and get an unguarded or ill-thought out response.
I hoped to provoke a response with these questions but most of them, to their credit, avoided the trap I set them, because they had listened to my coaching and side-stepped the question neatly.
But there were a couple of occasions when old school farmers went AWOL and I remember Alison’s face going from grey to white to a sickly green when she heard their responses!
Later after the session had ended, we had a bloody good laugh about it.
Good luck Alison, you have done a cracking job and it’s been a pleasure to have known and worked with you.