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Correspondent&#39s week

“I am employed, I am employed. I have a boss, I have a boss.” It&#39s my new mantra and something I must once again work hard to place at the centre of my working life. It&#39s Monday morning, week two as head of communications at Park Row Group.

Having run the Pretty Technical Partnership for the last eight years with a single co-director, the culture shock is huge but I made the decision that distribution is the place to be and this is the best place to do it.

My role is to look at internal and external communications as well as focusing on how we, as a company with 280 advisers across 23 UK branches, can work more effectively with product providers. So that is what this week is about.

On Monday, I have meetings with three potential new PR agencies regarding our account. Nothing too formal at this stage but I am trying to gauge what sort of agency we need.

Investor and City relations is not something I have done before so I see this as a gap that I need to fill externally. However, the issue of consumer and trade press relations is one to ponder over. In the past, I have done this informally, usually in a wholly social capacity (oh, the joys of being a business owner) over a beer. Thereafter, you start working together. In my new world, the emphasis has to become wholly more professional – the share price and the external perception of the company could rest upon this (repeat mantra in head several times).

Yikes then, decision made – need a very professional all-round, multi-service PR agency, not just to deal with press relations but also to manage me.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday consist of 14 meetings with national account managers from our key product provider relationships. My colleagues are not based in the London office, hence the tendency to pack as much in as possible when they are in town. This can prove very effective but I can honestly say that, from meeting eight onwards, it becomes a bit of a blur. “My name&#39s Jo and I&#39m a director of Sofa and for the last eight years I&#39ve been….. yadda yadda yadda…..” Yawn.

What I really wanted to get out of these meetings was an idea of how providers can work effectively with us to build a business relationship. I am shocked at the number that cannot answer this. Those who do have something clear to say really stand out. Quite honestly, it&#39s a bit depressing.

We are all feeling the same pressures in terms of costs and delivery but we still get enthusiastic and like to enjoy what we do. Some people in the industry really do need to look on the bright side more.

Friday looks like a fairly clear day for a change, so getting organised is the order of the day. Dull, I know, but essential. Consequently, I find distractions to divert me for most of the morning.

Having popped out for a quick lunch, I return to the office to find that I am now on the email circulation list of every provider imaginable, so there are 53 unread emails, let alone the internal ones about projects I seem about to get involved in.

I cannot believe the number of approaches we get from third parties offering us lead-generation opportunities. It is something I am learning that Park Row is very good at. Currently, we receive around 800 enquiries a month from consumers seeking financial advice. With these two new projects, this is likely to rise to around 5,000 leads a month. Recruitment will need to take centre stage before long, too.

It has been a long week, with a diet of takeaways and too little sleep. It is 7.30 pm on Friday night and I am frazzled. I leave the office with my head spinning and with the intention of leaving it all behind until Monday. I am not good at switching off, so little chance of that, but despite it all I cannot stop grinning.


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