Friday, April 19, 2013

Testimonial: Be Pro-Active. It works!

I am a mathematician, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sheffield.

You might think that mathematical breakthroughs don't hit the news very often, but earlier this year a new prime number was discovered, the biggest ever with around 13 million digits! This appeared on a few online news sites but I thought it deserved TV or radio coverage, with a mathematician talking about it, ie me. I asked Claire (TV producer and founder of, and she said I should definitely BE PROACTIVE. She advised me to write to the Today programme, BBC news, Sky news, and Woman's Hour. She said to keep it short, say why I thought it would interest their audience, and include a link to my Find a TV Expert profile.

I sent these off at about 10pm on a Thursday evening. I got a call from Sky News at lunchtime the next day and half an hour later I was on my way to a live interview on the evening news! Fired up by how well this went, I did it again two weeks later when I heard an item on Today about under-achievement of British children at maths. I sent my email to the same four places, and Sky News responded again: this time within an hour, and I was booked for a live interview on the lunchtime news. My third attempt was when a report was published saying only 6% of UK maths professors are female. This time it was Woman's Hour who responded, and I was interviewed on the programme this week.

That makes a three out of three hit rate I've had by following Claire's advice to be proactive! And you don't have to be Einstein to work out that's 100%... The producers at Sky News and Woman's Hour have said how pleased they are that I contacted them, and that they're keen to have back. So I think the message is clear: be proactive - it works!