A day in the life of Caren Davies, Head of Publicity, The X Factor & Britain’s Got Talent

By on Friday, December 14, 2012

The winner may have only just been crowned, but Caren Davies, head of publicity of The X Factor, has already started working on Britain’s Got Talent’s next series.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked Caren, who was previously head of communications at BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra (amongst others), if she’d pen us a ‘typical day’, knowing it would be anything but. She very kindly agreed.

For any aspiring entertainment publicists (and obviously, anybody interested in the world of PR), here’s an account of a typical day for the most dedicated PR person I think I’ve ever spoken to, whilst she was working on The X Factor.

Over to you, Caren…

Caren Davies, third from left

As soon as my alarm goes off, I pick up my Blackberry and check the news cuttings (which come through at around 6am every morning). I also check my emails and Twitter (for breaking news and current trends) as soon as I wake up. I put the news on TV to see what is happening. I think every PR does that.

The time I get into the office varies as we do a lot of late nights and early starts so the time can change from day to day. Normal office hours are to start at 9am and finish at 6pm but it’s very rare to do a ‘normal’ office day. Going to work by train/tube gives me a chance to clear emails and I do this at the start and end of the day so sometimes people will still be receiving emails from me from 10.30pm until I go to sleep!

I look at the papers when I get to the office and we have a quick team catch up to see where we all are with things. We have a week by week plan for The X Factor and this changes all the time as we have to work around production schedules. As we don’t know which contestants will make it to the Live Shows and who will leave each week, things often have to be done at the last minute. Each week we do shoots, interviews, web chats etc with contestants and accompany them to events/red carpets.

The team consists of three publicists and two assistants and events are split between the team as there are so many and the hours are long – you can start with Daybreak as a 5.30am get-up and then do a film premiere so wouldn’t be home until midnight. We work proactively, arranging shoots, interviews etc but obviously with a show of this size there is a never ending stream of calls into the office and a lot of issues to deal with.

Obviously at times, things happen that are out of our control and my day will be shaped by those events.

The X Factor finalists

I have catch-ups with the Exec Producers, Assistant Producers and my counterpart at Syco (who co-produce the show with Thames) plus the communications team over at ITV. I work closely with the sponsorship and digital teams too. In the last week of the show, ‘any other duties’ included proof reading the Winners Book – of course there were three versions during that week for Chris, Jahmene and James so I had to go through words, pictures and layouts for all three.

When the Live Shows are on the team is split into two – working one weekend on and one weekend off. I go down on my weekend off though as it’s impossible to stay away and not be a part of it! I am on call 24 hours a day and this series I have had calls up to 1am and starting again as early as 5.45am on occasion.

The earliest I ever get home is 8pm (on a good day) and then I will try and switch off a bit by watching endless American shows such as True Blood, Arrow and Entourage (oh and teen dramas like the Vampire Diaries and 90210 – I haven’t grown up yet!). My planner is constantly full as I never have time to watch anything so when I am home I hardly ever watch shows as they go out, I am always on catch-up. I enjoyed I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here and the Freddie Flintoff boxing documentaries recently and I can’t wait to catch up with An Idiot Abroad 3 as Karl Pilkington is hilarious.

Before I go to sleep I look at the front pages of the papers on Twitter (thanks @suttonnick!) and check on any breaking news.

We don’t have any time off while the show is on air, so I am looking forward to a break at Christmas. I am already working on Britain’s Got Talent so try to fit in as much with that as I can, as the show is ramping up towards the Judges Auditions Tour. I am writing the communications strategy, organising red carpets and starting to look at press plans for the Judges and presenters.

My advice for anyone wanting to go into PR is: be nice to people on the way up as you might see them again on the way down; you need to have thick skin, a positive outlook, lots of energy and enthusiasm and be able to stay calm when everyone around you may be losing their heads!

Follow Caren on Twitter @CarenDavies

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