Gilding the lily

Do you know what ‘gilding the lily’ means?

I’ve hired a final-year communications student to help me with my load at work. I told her not to gild the lily when she was writing a story from a press release and she looked at me totally blankly.

Millenials obviously don’t gild lilies.

Actually, there are many things I say to her that she doesn’t understand. I’ve always been quite fond of vernacular and my version obviously needs an upgrade.

She also thinks it’s hilarious that I tell her to “have a crack at” writing stories.

It must be strange to be 23 and learning about digital media from a 49-year-old who never went to university, spent 25 years working in that outdated medium called print …. and didn’t know how to insert secondary images into stories on the site until she came along.

She often asks me why I’ve done parts of my job a certain way and it’s so hard to explain. I’ve never been formally taught anything about digital journalism or social media, I’ve just soaked it up on the job.

And while there are lots of stats out there on the right times of the day to do things, knowing which stories to write and promote often comes down to gut instinct.

I think/hope I’m helping mature her digital writing skills. I’m not entirely sure she planned on maturing her digital writing skills but she’s a very fast learner (ah, the joy of hiring the daughter of a seasoned journalist).

She also probably wasn’t expecting to write about alcohol for 30 hours a week when she started her uni degree. I’m trying to keep it interesting by giving her stuff like the rise of non-alcoholic spirits (booze-free gin for example, weird) for increasingly abstinent millennial drinkers and the impact Amazon could have on retail in Australia. Things that are a bit like teeny uni essays (or what I imagine uni essays are like, except with all the opinion cut out).

It’s World Tequila Day next week (cheers!) so I got her to write a story about the top 5 trends in Tequila. One of them was sustainability. Her initial story came back only discussing bat-friendly Tequila (long story). I said “oooh you haven’t mentioned Ford making car parts out of Tequila byproducts” and sent her a link. Plus one on a drinks company composting byproducts to give back to agave farmers.

She was a bit incredulous as I started rattling it off, wanting to know how I knew all that stuff.

Hey, we’re talking about someone who used to be a celebrity encyclopaedia, it was inevitable I’d become an alcohol one (it’s amazing how much I’ve absorbed in a year).

As we’ve become more comfortable with each other I’ve started asking my newbie for teenager advice – since she was one fairly recently. She’s been great with her “nah, that’s not on at ALL” views … and her “yeah, well, I can kinda get where she was coming from on that” moderation.

But the main thing I’m getting out of our relationship, other than another pair of hands, is feeling good about giving someone a first shot at a paying job in communications, tempering drudge-y tasks with the chance to get her name on some good work, explore her passion for videography and connect with potential future employers.

It’s a nice feeling to give back.

Song of the day: Spandau Ballet “Gold”

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