Friday October 19th 2012

Autumn 2012 Week 1: 17-21 September

The interns take you through their week, day by day…

Monday 17 September am (Chandni)
Walking from Liverpool street station to Unicorn House – where I will be based for the next ten weeks – I was feeling excited yet nervous about what we would be doing on the first day of the Taylor Bennett Foundation Internship. As I sat down at my new desk, eager to get started, it was nice to see the other seven interns who had made it on to the programme. Everyone was really friendly, and we all got along straight away.

When everyone had arrived, we were set up with our own email addresses, which made things feel all the more real and exciting; then, once we were settled, course director Sarah Stimson asked us to come into the meeting area for our introduction. We started off by introducing ourselves, and telling each other our interesting facts, which definitely helped ease the nerves. Sarah then talked us through what we will be doing over the weeks, and what will be expected of us. She also advised us to make the most of the next ten weeks – developing industry contacts, writing our blogs, being presentable and professional – all will be beneficial to us in the long run.

There was a lot to take in, but it made it all the more stimulating, and we all feel as though we cannot wait to get started.

Monday 17 September pm (Catherine)
Today, for the first time, we visited the company offices of Taylor Bennett, the leading executive search agency for the communications industry, and the founding organisation of the Taylor Bennett intern programme. We felt very privileged, excited – and slightly anxious – about visiting the offices for the first time.

The company is based just off Oxford Street and the building proved to be as grand as we were expecting. We were met by Sarah, who conducted our programme introduction and led us in a CV workshop, in which we analysed the CVs of leading communications practitioners, including that of the founding director.

It was a great session, providing first hand insight into what makes a strong and effective CV, especially in terms of content and format. But what I found perhaps most useful was that we were able to get an in depth look at the career history of top PR executives, and how they made their way through the different levels.

It was great to get an idea of the different roles and approaches that were taken; this kind of information will help us make decisions about which direction to take our own careers.

Tuesday 18 September (Bolu)
Today we had a session with Chris Cooke, in which he gave us an introduction to PR. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say he is a PR and media genius. He seems to know everything about everything, and whatever question we had was answered immediately with an extremely informative answer.

We spoke in detail about the different ways people in PR define PR (e.g why some people may refer to what they do as ‘corporate communication’) and also what the definition of ‘stakeholders’ is, and just who are the stakeholders; this led on to of the importance of each stakeholder in relation to PR. I say “we spoke”, because although Chris was teaching us, it was a very interactive session. We discussed each others ideas and notions about each type of stakeholder, and also related it to actual current PR issues in the press, or in politics, or in entertainment. By bringing in these examples, Chris really brought what we were learning to life.

We also learnt something about the ins and outs of businesses themselves: the hierarchy of corporations. Since PR professionals interact a lot with businesses, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how these organisations work. I found this part of the session particularly interesting, as I have no business background, and it clarified a lot of things for me. We also spoke about the professional development of somebody in an in-house communications role, how they will move through and up a department as their career progresses. It was a very interesting day, and by the end of it, my head was whirring with newly acquired knowledge.

Wednesday 19 September (Elmira)
Today 4 of us went to the PRCA to complete a training course, an Introduction to PR led by Trevor Morris, a visiting professor in Public Relations from the University of Westminster. As we entered the plush surroundings of the Hill+Knowlton Strategies offices, I felt a slight twinge of sickness in my stomach (similar to that first day of school feeling), but as we were ushered into the meeting room, I relaxed, because everyone – Trevor included – gave warm friendly smiles.

We were handed workbooks. Trevor made it quite clear he did not like using power point, which I felt was a bonus in case I missed out any points on the note making front! The agenda for the day was split into different sections, some of which included:

What is PR?
The structure of the Industry.
Advertising Vs PR.
Stakeholder analysis
POSTAR (Position, Objective, Strategy, Tactics, Administration and Results)

Trevor was an excellent teacher, who taught his subject with passion, and it was also lovely to talk to others taking the course, who also gave us some much needed advice. Another amazing opportunity provided by the Taylor Bennett Foundation; I would thoroughly recommend the PRCA training course to anyone interested in PR. Thank you Trevor Morris, and thank you Taylor Bennett.

Wednesday 19 September (Charlet)
Monday and Tuesday were full of introductions, lessons and meetings; so having a day free to get on with assignments felt odd yet refreshing at the same time. Half of the interns went on a course today, the other half of us remained at the office in Shoreditch. Those of us that were left behind stayed engrossed at our computer screens, hard at work on refining our presentations, writing blog entries and opinion pieces.

Thursday 20 September (Jasmin)
Thursday was spent in the Shoreditch office, which gave us plenty of time to make progress on our assignments for Friday, and to rehearse our presentations for Edelman. Unlike at our assessment day, we will have access to a computer, and so we spent some time creating our PowerPoint slides.

I had taken the opportunity earlier in the week to arrange a meeting with my Taylor Bennett ‘buddy’, researcher Olivia Bleasdale so at 2.30pm I left Unicorn House and made my way over to the Taylor Bennett offices. We walked to a small coffee shop close by and had general chat about my background and my reasons for being on the Taylor Bennett graduate programme. Olivia gave valuable advice on how to be productive with my time, such as creating case studies that I can call upon in interviews. She made me feel at ease, and told me to contact her if I needed advice on anything at all.

After my meeting I returned to the Shoreditch Office for the rest of the afternoon. We were all getting increasingly nervous about our looming presentations at Edelman the following day!

Friday 21 September am (Nadia)
Today we spent the day at the Edelman. When excitedly and anxiously arrived at their offices at 9.00am, we were shown around, told about the different departments and then allocated to our teams. I was pleased to be made obe of the A&R team, as I like the clients they work with, and the team were very friendly, immediately making me feel comfortable and welcome.

We then went to a meeting room to have talks from Jenni Luyk (Senior Acount Executive) and Neil Cassley (Account Director). Jenni’s talk included an introduction to PR, an explanation of the aims of the communication industry, the development of the PR industry in recent years, and detail on how Edelman engages with different media. Her presentation also offered interesting and surprising facts and figures, which were really engaging! Neil Cassley’s presentation built on the information given to us by Jenny, as he talked us through different media, and explained to us what ‘Clover Leaf Media’ and ‘Transmedia Storytelling’ is. He then set us an interesting and challenging task to complete for next week!

Unfortunately, Ed Williams (CEO) was not able to come meet us, but we were told that we would meet the next week. This gave us some more time with our teams before lunch, then I met up with the other girls from the programme and we had lunch together.

Friday 21st September pm (Lola)
This afternoon we remained at Edelman to redo the presentations that we had originally created for the assessment day. We were given the same brief and rules as was previously assigned; a time limitation of ten minutes to discuss how we would improve a company of our choice, and the ways in which we would communicate this change. An added requirement was that we had to use Microsoft PowerPoint.

Although we had all previously presented our ideas to secure a place on the programme, this was a task that we were all nervous about completing. These anxieties seemed to stem from presenting to a larger group of people in combination with being openly assessed by our peers.

After giving our presentations we were given useful feedback on specific aspects of our performance with regard to time keeping, delivery and content. Many of us noted these points down to use as a reference when planning our presentations for next week. After the close of the afternoon session we headed back to the Shoreditch office to finish off our weekly tasks.

Read more from: Autumn 2012 Trainee Blog