Get the inside track

Douglas Butt

Senior Associate

“I enjoy language and am quite descriptive, but I’ve found that being a good communicator is all about being able to convey your message in as straightforward a way as possible.”

What is the most interesting project you have worked on since joining Finsbury?

Without doubt Select Committee training, preparing clients to face intense questioning from MPs. It’s quite a surreal experience, sitting in front of a client, often someone vastly senior to you, and grilling them. We aim to make the experience as gruelling as possible so you can really go for it!

How did you come across Finsbury? What made them stand out from the crowd?

I did a couple of weeks’ work experience after university and loved it. I was applying for the civil service at the time, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do – all I knew was that I was obsessed with politics, but didn’t want to be ‘in’ politics. I was sat with the Public Affairs team and they definitely made a huge impression on me – I think I appreciated the fact that essentially they were all political geeks like me.

What do you now do at Finsbury and what sort of clients do you deal with?

I work on the Political and Regulatory team, so it’s pretty much politics every day – it’s been a bit of a busy year for us! Essentially our job is to help our clients understand and navigate government policy, and advise them on how best to communicate their objectives to politicians. You have to be a generalist to some extent, and I cover a number of sectors, but over the years I seem to have developed a speciality in transport. It’s a field I enjoy because it often involves very tangible products and outcomes.

What company activities happen each year within Finsbury and why you enjoy them?

The weekend away and Christmas party are yearly highlights. Personally though I’m a fan of the summer softball in Regents Park. Everyone works so hard so I think we all appreciate an opportunity to kick back a bit.

What qualities and skills have you learnt since joining Finsbury?

Getting to the point! I enjoy language and am quite descriptive, but I’ve found that being a good communicator is all about being able to convey your message in as straightforward a way as possible. It’s very easy to overcomplicate something and as soon as you do that, your message is lost.

In what way have you surprised yourself since working at Finsbury?

I’ve become a lot more confident in my abilities. I’m an extremely self-critical person and it’s sometimes tough to know whether you’re hitting the right level when you work so closely with an exceptionally talented group of people, many of whom have been doing this for years. But I think that challenge actually pushes you to raise your game, at least that’s what I’ve found.

Did you have any preconceptions about Finsbury before you joined? How was the firm the same or different than you imagined?

I don’t think I expected it to be such a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t get me wrong, everyone works extremely hard, but it’s not like some offices that can feel closed off and stuffy. It’s a very flat and open structure where everyone is genuinely friendly.

What is the best part of the job?

Easily my team. I think we pride ourselves on being slightly different to the rest of the office, mainly because of our field of work, and I love that.

How would you describe the atmosphere at Finsbury?

Extremely friendly. It’s something that comes up a lot when people spend time working with us. I think many people expect it to be very corporate because of the work we do but that couldn’t be further from the case.

How have you seen the general PR landscape change? Are there any trends you are seeing in the sector that excite you?

Politics is ‘always’ exciting – if not slightly exhausting! I can’t think of a single sector that has changed as much in the last year, and had such a seismic impact on business and society, as politics. It’s so volatile at the moment and is becoming increasingly relevant to every aspect of our work.  Public Affairs has had to adapt and become more flexible as we try to explain the changes we’re seeing, and not just predict what we think might happen.