The “What I Eat in a Day” trend made the pop culture rounds for years, and it’s even more popular now with the rise of TikTok nutrition influencers. As a child of the ’90s, I always found the articles (now videos) fascinating — a little peek into celebrity culture and what it looked like to have a nutritionist on staff. There is good and bad to it, especially when someone eats in a way that could be harmful if people copy it without consulting their doctor  — ahem, Gwyneth Paltrow’s viral bone broth moment — but when taken as a look into someone else’s life, it can be an interesting study in how others live. And it’s fun!

What I eat in a day is not nearly as exciting as Gwyneth, but as a PR professional, what I read in a day has a direct impact on the client strategies and decisions I make. So I’m channeling my inner influencer (available for brand trips!) to take you behind the scenes with “What I Read in a Day.”

Why It’s Critical to Read (a Lot) When You’re a PR Professional

I was a few years out of college when I landed my first PR job. I did some traveling, then direct sales, before finding the career that spoke to me. My manager at my first PR agency tasked me with reading three full magazines or newspapers a week, and we had a standing Friday meeting where I would tell her about what I read that week, what it taught me about journalism or the industries we worked with, and one thing I planned to take into the next week based on what I read. It’s a practice that taught me to think critically about what I read and pay attention to shifts in communication. I think it gave me the foundation I needed to become a great publicist, and it’s the top advice I give to people looking to improve their communication skills.

What I Read in a Day

8:00 AM: 30-minutes of fiction

I start most mornings with 30 minutes of fiction and a cup of coffee. This is before my work day starts and part of my getting ready routine. I started doing this because I found that my days are better if I don’t just hop up and get to work but take some time to do something creative to help wake up my brain. It kicks off the day with some imagination and intrigue, which does seem to influence how I write or tackle problems. It doesn’t have to be high-brow fiction — often, I’m tearing up a beach read or fantasy. In fact, if you are into an underdog uprising in a dystopia, I highly recommend the Red Rising series. 

A lot of people who I talk to about books express a similar sentiment that once they stopped school, they found that reading still felt like homework. Especially high achieving types will feel embarrassed or like they are failing if they read anything below Anna Karenina-level literature. That sentiment resonates with me, but I have found giving yourself space to zip through a novel or indulge an interest really makes everyday life more fulfilling. 

9:00 AM: Axios Newsletters

Once I start my laptop up for work at 9 AM, like everyone else, I check my unread email and Slack messages. I subscribe to three daily Axios newsletters that are in my inbox by the time I log on, so those get opened and set aside while I wrap up my daily organization, then I read through them before starting any work. 

I have long been an Axios evangelist. Trustworthy journalism in quick, easy-to-read snippets  — what is not to love? I really appreciate the format of the newsletters, which outline what you should know about a story, why it matters, and any other important information in a bulleted list. The three I read daily are:

  • Axios AM: This is the overall, top-headlines newsletter. It’s what alerts me to major world events, what’s going on economically, and occasionally, a really interesting deep dive into a topic of author Mike Allen’s choice. 
  • Axios Login: This newsletter by Ina Fried has news and insights about the tech world. Having worked in tech for most of my career, I know it’s pivotal to stay on top of what is trending with the big players, new innovations, conferences, and investors. 

Axios Local: Axios has a local presence in many major cities, including mine. This is written by journalists who live locally and keep me in the know about politics, restaurants, and events. I have taken the newsletter’s weekend advice many times and attended events I wouldn’t have otherwise heard about.

Around 2:00 PM: Trade Publications 

Because today’s news cycle is lightning-fast, industry-specific media research is built into most of my days. Staying on top of trends in each industry and how those topics are already being discussed is critical to your clients’ success because it uncovers opportunities to share their take. Media lists are constantly evolving as journalists move to different publications or change their beat. And overall, to be a good strategic partner or advisor, it’s important to be able to speak from a place of knowledge. 

Not every day takes in-depth media research. It’s often 30 minutes to an hour of looking at the websites of trade publications I know my clients care about or searching competitors’ names in a media monitoring tool. This part of my day has been made even easier with generative AI tools like ChatGPT. I find a few articles pertaining to a subject I’m interested in and ask ChatGPT to summarize them for me. While it isn’t the best tool for finding the right stories, once I have what I want to learn about, it helps me digest the information more quickly. Pair that with a few articles that I read more in-depth, and I am learning something new every day.

All day: Twitter (Don’t @ me.)

I recognize that Twitter is not what it was pre-Musk. It can be difficult to navigate and notable outlets like NPR have abandoned it completely. As of the day that I’m writing this, it is still probably one of the best resources for quick news updates. Will that become Bluesky? Only time will tell. 

I follow journalists, marketing and communications professionals, and media outlets, so my Following tab is curated to keep me in the know. Often, news breaks on Twitter, and journalists post there when they are making a job change. Many like to share additional context to the articles they have published or start a thread while researching an idea. It’s a good way to gather more information than what made it through edits and approvals at a news outlet.

4:00 PM: The Daily Crunch

If there’s one thing this girl loves, it’s a newsletter. (Speaking of, you should check out Firebrand’s The Forge. It’s monthly and from the minds of our team!) The Daily Crunch is a curated newsletter from TechCrunch and is an absolute must-read for those interested in tech and startups. 

Typically authored by Christine Hall and Haje Jan Kamps, the Daily Crunch is broken up into a few sections. The TechCrunch Top 3 shares three big stories from the day, making it a good way to wrap up work knowing that I didn’t miss anything major in tech, especially if I had a meeting-heavy day. Then there is a Startups and VC section with the latest in funding and new companies. After that is a story from TechCrunch+ with some special knowledge from the outlet’s membership program. Finally, the Big Tech, Inc. section covers the big players like Apple and Google. 

One Hobby, Lots of Upsides

Reading keeps your vocabulary and grammar instincts sharp, helps you stay in the know about trends, and makes you more interesting at parties. So much of PR and communication is predicting which stories will make headlines and advising clients or peers based on larger conversations in the media. It’s far more fun and interesting to do if knowledge-gathering is part of your daily routine.

About the Author

Kristina Leal is a PR Account Director at Firebrand Communications. She has over six years of experience in tech public relations and marketing, having served large, well-known brands and fresh startups. She is driven and creative, always seeking to make her clients’ day.