Having spent two years working for a start-up publisher, I am no stranger to media sales and copy deadlines. However it is day one at the Financial Times (FT) and I am feeling the buzz that comes with being in the heart of a bustling media organisation. The building is alive with activity. Six floors providing workspace to some of the best media professionals in the world, all of whom are committed to delivering accurate, independent, insightful information to their audience.
First off, I am shown to the office where I am to work for the next four weeks. Half of the team are out seeing clients, those who are there greet me warmly. I had thought that I was used to working in a media company, but it dawned on me that this operation was, is, on a wholly different scale. Once I am settled at my desk and given my login details for the network, I check out my calendar and see that I already have meetings booked with six or seven of the key staff in our team. Great! Now to find out what makes the FT tick.
First of all I met with the Publishing Manager for ‘How To Spend It’ magazine, who also oversees the Luxury & Consumer Goods sales team. We talked about the team’s role in the business and how it fits into the jigsaw puzzle that makes up the commercial side of the FT, as opposed to editorial. We discussed what I hoped to gain from the experience and I was given a brief matching my goals. Meeting the rest of the team, in both junior and senior positions, gave me a much deeper understanding of the dynamics of these 15 or so individuals and how they work together. Once I had learnt about the team’s makeup I began to pick apart what drives their success. In my view their key attributes are; one, high performing experienced staff; two, close relationships and well healed processes linking them to other departments; three, fantastic guiding management at all levels. What stood out to me was that every single person there brought their own unique skill set and style to add to the mix. This mix is what I think makes them a strong team overall.
Now, I have a good chunk of experience selling advertising and am fairly familiar with the processes that go into getting a publication ready for print. The thing about an established company such as the FT is that they have tried and tested methods of doing things. I was lucky enough to be learning how salespeople who bring in millions of pounds a year do their jobs. My first task was to put together a prospective client list around tactical advertising opportunities. We came up with the idea of running campaigns for companies with a cycling affiliation, pegged to editorial features covering the Tour de France. This was a good natural progression from my own knowledge of sourcing leads. I learnt how to tie potential clients into wider opportunities and trends. Once this was complete and the resulting leads sent out to the appropriate salespeople, I moved on to explore other potential tactical opportunities coming up over the next 6 months. My other major role while in the advertising department was centred around the Charity sector. I was tasked with rejuvenating the patch by giving the sales deck (presentation) an overhaul, and reaching out to potential clients to bring them up to speed with the FT. I tested my presentation skills and produced a good looking set of slides, and then brushed the dust off of my telephone and got talking to people. For those who don’t know, pitching is great fun and fantastic practice for getting a message across concisely.
Many people perceive internships as roles where you are given the boring jobs. My experience so far has been far from that. As you might expect, it is brilliant to be working on live projects. Everything I have contributed to has, or will have, a real and measurable outcome. I have been able to actually add value to the team’s work, and it has been exciting to work alongside people as motivated as myself! And what is more, I wasn’t asked to make a single cup of tea, and I didn’t have to make any photocopies. Not even one. Great stuff FT!
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