Day in the Life: Senior Account Executive – Ashley Poon

My Job

As an Account Executive at Cognito, I support my internal team, our clients and the firm overall. My day-to-day tasks vary greatly given the fast-paced nature of both the media and the financial markets, which makes each work day a bit different and new.

Working at Cognito gives me the opportunity to develop communications strategies that fit our clients’ business and media goals, as well as execute on the ideas we deliver. As a firm we also strongly believe in measuring our activity against metrics to provide our clients with tangible outputs and demonstrate the necessary role communications plays in their businesses’ development.

My Working Day

My day often begins before I get in the office – working with a suite of global clients means I wake up to a flurry of emails and updates in the early AM from Europe and Asia. I do a quick check for any items that require immediate action, and also begin my daily, constant scans for any client coverage or industry news that will impact their business.

8:30am – Arrive in the office, making a beeline for the coffee pot before settling in at my desk. I rely on a few newsletters to get a download on the day’s news, including the Financial Times’ “US Morning Headlines”, The New York Times’ DealBook, The Wall Street Journal’s “In Today’s Paper,” and the internal update our proprietary software arm, Cognito Analytics sends, which highlights top news, lists upcoming editorial opportunities and notes Twitter trends for the financial sector.

9:00am – Respond to a few media inquiries / fact checks for an event one of our clients hosted last week: send high-res photos from the day of and follow up to check if stories have run.

9:30am – Quick catch up with the other members of my team to touch base on our priorities and activities for the day. Working closely (literally and figuratively) with my colleagues allows me to see how best to allocate my time for the day to most efficiently and effectively provide support where it’s needed. With a variety of accounts requiring varying degrees of attention, it’s crucial that I keep us up to date on client and media requests and items.

10:30am – Leave the office for a midtown meeting with one of our broker dealer clients. Cognito’s focus on delivering measurement around our PR efforts and activity sets us apart in demonstrating our value-add to the C-suite. We’ve had a great first month with this client, securing high-level coverage around the announcement of their newest office opening and introducing their Head Trader to a few reporters who will hopefully become established contacts moving forward.

12:00pm – Arrive back in the office; follow up to schedule a couple of interviews for a markets reporter around this week’s economic data numbers. By focusing exclusively on the financial sector, we’re often able to tap our media relationships across clients and teams: we’re not stingy about sharing media opportunities, passing along insight into upcoming events or delivering the latest on reporters’ moves.

12:30pm – We are “kicking off” with a new client later in the week; working with the team’s intern I am preparing a brief of the company’s current media profile so we can start the relationship with an understanding of where their communications is at currently, as well as provide early recommendations for where there’s opportunity to increase their voice or amplify their messaging to reach the firm’s target audience.

1:00pm –The restaurant scene around Cognito can be hit or miss, today lunch is a chopped salad, that corporate lunch so ubiquitous it was profiled by The New York Times over the summer. In between bites I take some time to read through the stories I’ve had open since the morning: a mix of business trends, US politics and tech updates from the West Coast.

2:00pm – Confirm timing for one of the markets interviews and begin drafting briefing materials ahead of the discussion for our client’s executive spokesperson. This is the first conversation the spokesperson is having with this particular journalist, so ensuring we deliver all the background information around the news outlet and journalist available is key to facilitating the best interview possible.

3:00pm – In addition to servicing client accounts, I’m part of Cognito’s internal PR team, which drives the media and marketing efforts for Cognito itself. Today I’m proofreading a press release announcing the newest addition to Cognito’s New York office, and thinking about who in the public relations trade publications will be interested in covering the news.

3:30pm – Call with our client to discuss an upcoming product and client announcement; we’re catching up with their client manager to get a download on the scope of the news and key messages we’d like to highlight in the press release and in any media interviews conducted around the announcement. Our job as PR professionals is to position our clients’ news as timely and relevant in order to attract interest from additional potential customers for our clients: product announcements can be hooked to new regulatory requirements, central to key industry trends, or provide first to market services or value-add.

4:30pm – Scan the news for anything our clients can speak to; working with a mix of financial services companies means each one can provide unique insight into the day’s news and events. It’s currently earnings season, which means the markets reporters at Bloomberg, Reuters, Dow Jones and the like need sources to speak to for color around announcements and corporate performance. One of my favourite aspects of working in financial PR is the opportunity it provides to keep up with news across industries.

5:30pm – Review the briefing materials for our new client our intern has prepared; pull the most relevant materials and circulate to the team. In addition to messaging sessions and initial brainstorms, our kick-off sessions are opportunities for us to introduce the working practices that characterize our client activities. Today I’m looking to build out an initial planning calendar proposing this client’s upcoming news, events, and media opportunities.

6:30pm – Step out to the roof for a breather – in 2010 our New York office moved from midtown to Battery Park, and we have unparalleled views of the harbour, Statue of Liberty, Staten Island, the Financial District and New Jersey. The sun setting Jersey City is a site to behold – and Instagram.

7:00pm – We provide around-the-clock media monitoring for our largest clients; at the end of day I conduct scans and searches to hand off the draft of the next morning’s update to our UK team who will send first thing in the morning.

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