In our latest ‘Journo Intel’ entry, we had the pleasure of meeting Hazel Shearing, education correspondent at the BBC. With a focus on nursery years and university (and postgraduates and PhDs which she notes do not get much media coverage), she provides a unique perspective on the education sector. We sat down with Hazel in April to learn more about her interests and preferences, and we’re excited to share our insights with you!

Keen to ‘jazz up’ its education offering, the BBC secured the services of Hazel Shearing in November 2021. This is Hazel’s first specialist role, having previously worked as a generalist at Buzzfeed and The Sunday Times. Her remit is to make the education section less dry and more “human-focused”, a “phrase I’m not particularly fond of,” she adds wryly.

What to pitch?

  1. Human-interest angles: Hazel values a good case study, emphasising the importance of the human-interest angle in her stories. She is always on the lookout for compelling case studies that help bring her stories to life. She believes case studies are the most important and engaging way to tell a story, so PRs pitching stories should take note. Her preferences are more about trends and less about survey-heavy stats and research.
  2. AI and ChatGPT: Hazel is intrigued by the implications of generative AI on essay writing in universities and the challenge of detecting plagiarism. She aims to explore the broader story surrounding AI in schools and its potential impact.
  3. Mental health at university: as a topic close to her heart, Hazel is keen on covering mental health issues at university, including online safety as it pertains to education. She’s open to discussing mental health very broadly in her stories.
  4. Multi-platform stories: as an online correspondent, Hazel works across radio, TV, social media, and other online platforms. She is interested in stories that can effectively engage audiences across these different channels.
  5. TikTok and the BBC: Hazel is active on TikTok, and with the BBC’s CEO pushing for more TikTok content (and their numbers quickly growing), they have a dedicated team working on it. She mentioned that while it’s challenging to cut through the noise on the app, stories like teacher strikes have resonated well. She lists the BBC story of teacher abuse on TikTok as the perfect example of what she’s after – “it had an unusual angle, a case study and just the right number of statistics.”

How and when to pitch

Hazel prefers not to receive surveys, so PRs should avoid sending them her way. There is no specific ‘best time’ to pitch her. She is open to receiving pitches at any time, but keep in mind that she only works Tuesday to Friday.

Hazel Shearing offers a unique perspective on the education sector with her focus on nursery years and university stories. By understanding her interests and preferences, PR professionals can better tailor their pitches to resonate with Hazel and create compelling content for the BBC’s diverse audience.

That’s all from Hazel for now, but you can follow her on Twitter at @hazelshearing.

Are you looking for an education PR agency that knows what journalists want? Get in touch!

Written by: Jasmin Martin, media relations executive at Definition.

Want to talk about your next project?

Contact us