[Pic: Andy Porter]
As the bells chimed on New Year's Eve, while others were revelling, Adam Vincenzini was buying a newspaper. It was the first time he had held one in his hands for a year, after he abstained from reading newsprint to see what life would be like without it.
The experiment began in January 2010, inspired by stories about the 'dying newspaper sector'. 'I wanted to see what impact it would have on my knowledge of events both as a regular dude and as a PR man,' Vincenzini explains.
The rules were simple. He could not proactively consume any newspaper, which included clippings for clients or reading over people's shoulders on the tube. But he was allowed to access newspapers' websites and to read magazines.
For someone whose daily media diet previously consisted of 45 minutes reading The Sun, The Times, The Guardian and Metro each morning, and the London Evening Standard on his way home, this was a dramatic change of habits.
To begin with, Vincenzini found it confusing to navigate the sheer amount of information online, and while he became more knowledgeable in specialist areas, he says he was sometimes late with general news.
'A newspaper is a finite product with a start, middle and end. A news editor, who knows what makes news, is choosing your stories for you. But online, you can always keep going and it's easy to move off in tangents,' he says. Online, he adds, you follow your interests, so you may miss stories that have an impact on how you live but you may not seek out - for example, politics and world news.
The narrower online community also has its pitfalls: 'On social channels, you tend to gravitate towards people who agree with you but you are not challenged as much on your opinions, which can help you learn,' he says. Social media and online comment often do not provide the balanced analysis and insight that newspapers can.
He also found that he watched less commercial TV and lost interest in mainstream culture, including celebrities and, surprisingly for the 'massive footie fan', football: 'I used to get my regular fix of football, but when you take it out of your routine, you lose interest.'
As time went by, he began to develop his own instincts about what was worth reading, eventually whittling it down to seven key sources. They are, in order: Twitter, Google Reader, Alltop.com, Popuris.com, Other People, Yahoo Pipes and mobile news apps such as Snaptu. He set time limits and slots in which to read, which helped him to be more discerning, but confesses: 'My enjoyment of reading disappeared.'
Vincenzini believes the digital world is changing the long-held assumption that the inverted pyramid is the best news structure. 'Instead of the news hook, online it is the stuff that comes afterwards that makes it shareable because it continues to be relevant. Evergreen content and data is more powerful online because people can search for it when they want it,' he says.
PROS, he says, are still mainly responsible for the creation and management of news: 'But creating "news-only" content is limiting and its lifespan is getting shorter. Smart PR operators should be spending more time on evergreen content because it can be used over and over again and live and breathe anywhere.'
Vincenzini, 31, was born in Australia to Italian parents. He joined Hill & Knowlton in Melbourne before transferring to the London office, where he met one of his current bosses, John Rivett, the co-founder of Paratus Communications. Rivett bellieves the experiment was a positive experience for the agency and clients.
He says: 'Adam is infectious, loyal, creative and a self-starter who takes enormous pride in his delivery. He's also someone with an Italian passport who cannot speak Italian. I brought him to Paratus for all of these reasons.'
Vincenzini left Paratus briefly in 2006 to work for Cricket Australia where he experienced the worst moment of his career after nearly losing Australia's three World Cup trophies following a photoshoot he arranged. Instead of being sent back to their home in Melbourne, they were placed in unmarked boxes circling Miami airport unguarded for three days.
Eventually, the trophies were recovered, but he managed single-handedly to change Cricket Australia's security policy - you now need handcuffs to take the trophies out on show.
Vincenzini, who recently proposed to his girlfriend Beth Carroll, Threepipe's head of social media, clearly enjoys his job but adds: 'It's just PR; we're not curing diseases. It is interesting and it adds value but if you don't enjoy it, what is the point?'
- 2008: Lead social media consultant, Paratus Communications
- 2006: Marketing comms manager, Cricket Australia
- 2005: Senior consultant, Paratus Communications
- 2003: Senior account executive, Hill & Knowlton, London
- 2001: Account executive, Hill & Knowlton
ADAM VINCENZINI'S TURNING POINTS
- What was your biggest career break?
In 2006, when I was PR manager at Cricket Australia, I was responsible for launching and managing the Australian Cricket Family, an online community made up of 150,000 passionate cricket fans. This triggered my interest in and passion for digital and social media, and that has stayed with me ever since.
- Have you had a notable mentor?
Paratus co-founder John Rivett has been an amazing mentor and friend over the past nine years. He provides actionable advice and encourages me and everyone at Paratus to aim for the best possible result every time.
- What advice would you give to someone climbing the career ladder?
Firstly, enjoy it. You will do a better job if you do. Secondly, challenge the status quo. Just because something has been done a certain way for 20 years, it does not mean a better way does not exist.
- What qualities do you prize in new recruits?
Self-awareness, the ability to be concise and curiosity are important. Essentially, someone who is confident but always open to suggestions.
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