24 February 2022

Behind the job ad. What's it really like to step into your first role in PR?

With three months of agency life under his belt, Benedict Clinch reflects on life as a Farrer Kane PR Assistant

A first job is a daunting prospect - will I enjoy the work? Will I like the people? Will it actually interest me?

When I arrived at Farrer Kane as a freshly minted grad, I wasn't sure what the answers to these questions would be.

My first morning in the office as a PR Assistant

After meeting the team (question 2 answered), settling into my desk (in our new office in Clerkenwell) and grabbing a drink (we have a lovely little café in our office at the Finsbury Business Centre), I was taught about 'media monitoring', a practice that is as self-explanatory as it sounds. Each week, the national newspapers are divided up, and divvied out to PR Assistants, who then find news relevant to clients and summarise it in a short email blast. That morning, and every morning since, I've spent from 8:30 - 9:00am immersed in the news, always thinking with a client mindset. In doing so, you begin to sketch out what, in all the various sectors the agency works with, is newsworthy - and therefore what you can capitalise on.

Working on accounts

Being assigned accounts was momentarily overwhelming. In my introduction to the financial services practice of a big law firm, I remember relying on distant memories of watching 'The Big Short', scribbling down acronyms, and questioning why anyone would be interested in Libor (I read English at university). You can't be knowledgeable on every sector straight away but quickly, you fall into a rhythm. I found myself reading articles at home, or on the train to work, that I wouldn't have given a second glance to before I joined.

Thankfully, the way the agency is structured means you always have someone to ask about these things. The advantage of being a PR Assistant, (although you are junior support on your accounts), is that you have account executives, managers and directors, all of whom are happy to shed light on these topics and share their wealth of knowledge on the sector.

Growth in knowledge

What is perhaps both most interesting, and challenging, is becoming familiar with a broad variety of subject matter across all accounts. On any given day, you could be jumping from employment tax loopholes to the importance of digital infrastructure, and beyond infrastructure into the metaverse. It won't always be content that immediately grips you - there will always be sectors which you gravitate to more than others - but it is rewarding. An added bonus is that I can now string together a few sentences about Intellectual Property in the pub!

Location, location, location

Aside from the work, I'd be remiss not to mention the office and local area. Despite being a Londoner, Clerkenwell wasn't an area I was particularly familiar with. Discovering the food markets and local delis has been a source of joy on my lunch break, my favourite being Terroni's (the oldest Italian deli in London, where you can get a highly respectable bowl of freshly made pasta for 6 quid).

So, in answer to my own questions, luckily, three months in, I can answer them all with a yes! What's not to like?