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Bettina Lemm - 05.05.14

Bettina shares her experience after four months in the UK, and four weeks in PR…

In my four months living in England and thanks to weekly trips to London to discover the capital, I have been able to soak in all of the enthusiastic frenzy that the most visited capital of Europe has to offer. Though I do not live in London, soon after my move from the US I found myself driven every weekend to discover a new hotspot in the city. I was specifically on the hunt for my favourite independent coffee shop. This task became very difficult after purchasing my little, yet deceivingly packed book, Best Independent Coffee Shops in London. I realized that it would take me several months before I got through the list of coffee shops that somehow made the cut in my book. In my first weeks here not only did I learn that London is a hub for delicious eats and nose-satisfying coffee roasts, but it is also an incubator for highly driven and successful people. A city that is able to uniquely highlight the best qualities of hundreds of pop-up shops, cafés, and independent food joints is a city that knows how to do its PR, and I wanted to be a part of that world.

In my last month working in PR in London, I have learned that it is a highly competitive industry, but that the rewards are absolutely worth putting in loads of effort. There are several moments throughout the day that I like to call “educational,” that I am very thankful for. My day starts with flipping through newspapers and reading information that is relevant to food and drink. The newspaper ink that is left on my fingers spurs me to refer to this half hour as my “Make sure you wash your hands before you scratch your nose” activity. I am also in charge of sending out wine samples for different contacts, and I like to call this moment “Don’t drop the bottle, don’t drop the bottle.” Of course, there are always spreadsheets that need updating and people to contact, but my shining moment is when the phone rings. Answering a phone call is what I like to refer to as “Pick-up, press transfer, wait, and drop.” I hate to admit it, but after one month on the job, I still go through the phone drill to make sure I don’t hang up on anyone that is trying to get through.

All joking aside, I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about French and Spanish wines, Italian ingredients, and getting to know wine writers through their columns. I am very passionate about food and drink and I love working with people that are detail-orientated and care about their clients because they believe in and love the product that they represent. Of course, Friday wine and the occasional group outings are a bonus. I like that I am part of a small team that does quality work and though it feels like I am learning so much from everyone, my hope is to also contribute and alleviate some of the workload! One aspect of the job that is hard to overcome is the commute. I have dubbed East Croydon as East CROWDon. Getting off the train is always a battle and I am not stranger to delays. At the same time, sharing in the misfortune of a commuter’s life connects me to a large population of London and its surroundings and oddly, makes me feel ever so much more professional.