OUR SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS MODEL
At PressPad we would love to provide free accommodation for all for young journalists who have secured work experience or internships but cannot afford to undertake it. Believe us, we tried. During our 2 year pilot (April 2018-2020) we matched just under 50 interns for a total of 109 weeks of placement all without a single penny changing hands.
Unfortunately because of a small team and non-existent funds we had to turn many away and risk wrapping up PressPad for good.
This is when we decided that if we were to exist for many years to come and help dozens more, we had to come up with a plan to make this project sustainable and help it grow so we can help more than just 50 interns every 2 years.
So we set our sights on the next best thing: affordable accommodation. This means that from April 2020 onwards every week of hosting will have a cost. The decision to provide affordable and not free accommodation is not just a practical one of survival. It’s also linked to our Stick-and-carrot theory of changing culture and expectations. Some organisations put interns up in expensive hotels costing them £150 A NIGHT.
We can help their accommodation budget stretch 7 times as far and in doing so ensure they can pay for 7 times the number of interns’ temporary housing. At the same time our prices are not so high that organisations without accommodation budgets at all won’t be able to justify creating one when they realise who they could welcome into their newsroom if only that financial barrier was removed.
So, what does affordable mean? At the moment in London we have calculated this to be £150 a week after the first two weeks of hosting, which is free* to the user. We reached this figure because we wanted to be able to commit to providing accommodation that is cheaper than a hotel or AirBnb but at the same time cover the scheme’s costs of running safety checks, the website and our small team of staff.
Please note: We will not be cheaper than long-term accommodation, a family friend’s room or a hostel room when booked 4 months in advance so if these are suitable for an intern or freelancer’s needs or they would prefer and have access to these options, we recommend they pursue them.
*We would love your thoughts on this policy. We know organisations rely on ‘legal’ but unethical unpaid two-week ‘work experience’ placements. We want to see organisations paying their interns or – failing that as things stand – at least their interns’ accommodation.
WHO PAYS FOR WHAT?
There are 3 ways you can pay for PressPad hosting:
- Apply for a means-tested bursary* (more info below on how this is calculated)
- Use a ‘PressPad credit’ discount code from a supporting media or educational organisation.
- Pay directly – ONLY if you can afford to. For example, perhaps you’re a paid freelancer from London who wants to do a project or work for a newsroom in another location.
THIS IS IMPORTANT: We will prioritise matching those with hosts in this order. This is so those most in need and excluded from current access models i.e those on the bursaries, will have first dibs on available hosts. This means in the case of host shortages, which we doubt will happen given the trends to date but we can’t be certain about, those who are proven to come from low socio-economic backgrounds and geographically remote locations will get preference.
MENTORING IS A PLUS
While we cannot beat Auntie Ellie’s spare room, or the cost of a room on a year long contract (that you need a guarantor, contract and a sublet to take the other 11 months of the contract!), what we do offer that those options don’t, are experienced journalists who can be guides and mentors through a new, intimidating adventure. We will also make sure interns have access to PressPad events and online networking.
ANOTHER IMPORTANT POINT: Interns and other journalists using the site are not paying to access the mentorship of top journalists. They are paying for accessible, cheap, safe and affordable accommodation that HAPPENS to be with a journalist. In 2020 PressPad will be launching a virtual mentoring network so if you want to talk to a media professional and get advice for free – and you don’t need help with accommodation – we will connect you.