What has your journey into Edelman looked like and how did you get into the communications industry?
Similarly to pretty much everyone working in financial communications, I didn’t know it existed as a career path until I started doing it. I knew very little about financial services and the City, and as a proud LGBTQ+ person, I also had my doubts about what kind of industry it would be like to work in.
But when a communications role at the trade association for the UK investment management industry came up, I was intrigued. It also helped that throughout its website and public facing media it included LGBTQ+ friendly signals and had also recently published a report into the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in investment management – all positive signs for an LGBTQ+ person looking for affirmation and as a bare minimum, acceptance, in a new industry.
I worked there for two and a half years, before stumbling across the Edelman Smithfield team. I was encouraged to network with the communications teams of UK investment managers as part of my job, and one day – given Edelman Smithfield’s strong book of investment clients - that communications team turned out to be Smithfield. We set up a meeting, and a few days later I was approached unexpectedly with an invitation to interview. Having had in-house communications experience, I knew PR agency experience was highly valuable and jumped at the opportunity.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Focusing on just one project or piece of work is difficult, as much of what we do across Edelman is worthy of praise. But one particular area is the strong relationships we have developed with key broadcasters and our team’s ability to pitch, secure and see through high-profile, high-impact broadcast appearances for a wide range of our clients. It's an area as an agency where we really add value, and still to this day nearly two years on, it keeps bringing me pride to see a client successfully navigate a live TV interview.
What do you find most rewarding about the job?
The ceaseless movement of the news cycle, and the fact our investment clients – through their investments in companies, currencies and governments – are affected and related to almost every aspect of the news cycle, means we have so many opportunities to engage with the very latest news. This can of course have downsides, but the ability to engage with and if appropriate, actively comment on and shape the news never gets old.
For example, when interest rates are announced by the world’s biggest central banks, many of our clients want to provide immediate reactions on what this means for economies, investors and markets. Given the scale of some of our clients, what they say – and how widely their comments are picked up by the media – has real consequences and can make a big impact.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced throughout your time at Edelman?
Adapting to an unrelenting and at times very demanding workload can be testing. The news cycle waits for no one and our clients have high standards, so this can naturally be challenging – especially when multiple demands on your time come through simultaneously.
But working with a great team of motivated and driven colleagues, who look out for one another, makes a massive difference and helps build a camaraderie and respect that is so valuable at work.
How do you stay motivated?
The team of people I work with is a real motivator for me. Their ability to deliver such excellent results at speed and under pressure is a testament to them and a source of inspiration to me.
The varied opportunities for coverage and the goal of delivering a high-quality service to clients is another source of motivation. Whilst the opportunities to secure coverage for clients might not be endless, the creativity and the imagination required is both fulfilling and motivating.
If you could offer one piece advice to someone considering a role at Edelman Smithfield, what would it be?
You are welcome, worthy and deserving of your space in this industry. Financial services are fundamentally people businesses, and so much of working in this sector is based on your professional relationships and how well you work with your wider team.
And media relations is fundamentally about professional relationships with journalists – do they like you, do they trust you, are you reliable, are you helpful? If you are a good people person – regardless of who you are or your background – you will go far.
What do you do outside work to relax?
I’m a massive politico - so utilising my campaigning and communication skills for social and political causes I care about outside work takes up a lot of my time. I’m a very active Labour party member, so I spend most of my evenings and weekends at meetings, socials and campaign events all pushing for the aims and values of the Labour party. I’m also currently trying to spend more time with my family in my home county of Shropshire – a nice 150 miles from London. So juggling the precarious nature of the West Coast Mainline is also a relaxing pastime...
David Parton is a Senior Account Manager at Edelman Smithfield