Andrew Emmerson has written eight books and edited two others, all of which are still in print. Subjects include TV, radio and telephone technology, the London Underground and vintage transport. He also edits the magazine of the Telecommunications Heritage Group, of which he was founder. He has also been working with Turtle Consulting Group for over a decade.
“I’ve always been a communicator and demystifier,” says Andrew Emmerson, “starting with my first job as a travel enquiry clerk at Waterloo station.”
“Since then, I have had seven books published, written for national newspapers and specialist technology titles and edited a telecoms history magazine,” he adds.
For the past ten years, Emmerson has also freelanced as a writer for Turtle Consulting Group.
“I first got to know MD Phil Turtle over twenty years ago when he was marketing manager for System X with GEC Marconi and came to me to get news releases approved, as I was working in BT’s press office at the time.
“When I left BT to concentrate on a freelance career as a writer and editorial consultant, he asked if I’d like to join the team…which I did,” he adds.
Whilst acknowledging that some might find it unusual or even difficult to work as a journalist and for a PR consultancy, Emmerson has never found it a problem to run his two careers alongside each other: “If you are competent and ethical you just compartmentalise your activities and personas,” he explains. “The great thing about working with Turtle is that they never ask me to write anything that doesn’t meet the best standards of journalism. They are very strict with their clients and won’t agree to anything that’s the least bit like advertorial.”
In a decade of working with Turtle Consulting Group, Emmerson has produced all kinds of business communications materials, including case studies, press releases and speeches.
He has never had to cold call journalists or been asked to ‘sell in’ stories: Emmerson’s role has been that of a journalist and writer. Because of the unique way Turtle Consulting Group operates, different teams of personnel create press materials than those who will eventually sell them in. In this way, journalists and others play only to their strengths.
Although he has always been pleased that they pay well and always on time, for the past ten years, Emmerson hasn’t only benefited financially from working for Turtle Consulting Group – there have been other equally tangible rewards as well. For example, Emmerson recalls a ‘skill swap’ that he was able to carry out.
“I spent some time coaching another Turtle who doesn’t have a background in writing and in exchange, she offered her counselling skills to me at a time when I had a lot to talk through.”
Emmerson also remembers a group session run by Phil Turtle which gave everybody an insight into the psychology of communicating with people, winning new business and handling clients.
“This was really relevant to my other freelance work,” explains Emmerson, “and I was pleased to be invited as part of the team, even though I am not involved in this kind of activity for Turtle Consulting. MD Phil Turtle is very supportive of his freelance team and always very free with his help and advice – even when it’s about our non-Turtle work.”
Whilst most freelancers certainly don’t miss office politics, the lack of banter and someone to bounce ideas off can sometimes leave homeworkers feeling isolated. “With this in mind, “says MD Phil Turtle, “We set up the Turtle Trumpet, which is an internal e-chat-line amongst all of the Turtle team – permanent and freelancers.
“Every day, there’s news and comments flying around – whether it’s requests for freelancers to pitch in to help us win a new contract, people looking for help or advice or just forwarding jokes. The community is so strong that many freelancers who no longer regularly work with us have remained on the Trumpet because they don’t want to miss out on anything!” he adds. “It always amazes me when one of the new business team says “Does anyone know about xyz?” that two or three Turtles have worked in that market – the breadth of experience is incredible.”
“Working for Turtle has been great,” says Emmerson, “They always pay on time and the work is interesting. More than this, a freelance cannot reasonably ask!”