PR Interview with Sandy Lindsay, Group MD, Tangerine PR

Tangerine PR is a top PR agency, recently winning Outstanding Consultancy at the CIPR Awards. Group managing director Sandy Lindsay explains its key approach to working with clients, supporting apprenticeships and how Twitter has been a real game-changer.

About the agency

What areas of PR does the agency specialise in?

Tangerine has three teams: Consumer PR, B2B PR and Social Media (run through our sister agency, Juice Digital), but these teams don’t run in isolation. Generally, the briefs coming into the agency have a B2B and a consumer requirement, as well as a social media need. In terms of sectors, we relish being generalist! But we do have some areas where we tend to do lots, including retail, food/FMCG, the built environment and automotive.

Tangerine PR won CIPR’s Outstanding Public Relations Consultancy award this year. What is special about your agency’s approach to PR?

The CIPR judges spoke of our ‘exceptionally sincere relationship with clients’ and we’re obviously really proud of this.

We don’t take on work unless we KNOW we can do a superb job and Tangerine regularly turns down opportunities where this does not apply. That puts us on a strong footing from day one, because we know we can guarantee results, which equals happy clients and happy clients equal happy Tangerines!

How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press?

We spend time at the beginning of any new client relationship mapping out what ‘good’ looks like, based on business objectives. We write this down and agree it and this forms our ‘MERIT’ standard (KPIs), whereby we pre-evaluate every campaign and only focus on doing what delivers results. We also have various specialists within our team; people who know their sectors and media inside out, combined with ‘cross-sector’ advisors, such as our Head of Media (Gary – spent 15 years working in senior positions within the national print media) and our Creative Director (Nigel – works to ensure every account handler is able to give campaigns that extra sparkle). The combination seems to work – delivering good quality, sustained coverage in the local, regional, national and sector specific media, packed full of key messages.

What do you look for in new recruits?

Attitude. Obviously we want people with skills and experience to support our clients, but I’ve always believed that the right attitude is key. At Tangerine we employ very different types of people, and then allow them to specialise in the areas they enjoy and are best at, from those in our Consumer team who believe that Hello is the Holy Grail to those in our B2B team who get very excited about things like mold inhibiting paint! In our sister agency, Juice Digital (social media marketing specialist agency acquired by Tangerine in Nov ’09 and named social media agency of the year at the How-Do Awards 2011) we employ social media specialists – of course – and in our Ops Team, we have HR and accountancy gurus, alongside a couple of very enthusiastic apprentices. But the thing we all have in common is ‘the Tangerine attitude’ which comes down to our ethics of honesty, courtesy and respect.

About clients

How important is the client/agency relationship?

The whole ethos at Tangerine is based on our three core values of honesty, courtesy and respect and that applies as much to clients as it does to the relationships between colleagues at the agency. We tell clients the truth and we pay them the courtesy of understanding their business fully, before we start pitching ideas at them and offering advice. Our clients tell us that’s not as common as you would think in the PR industry.

We expect the same back from our clients in return – and we get it. We ask for clear briefs, availability and buy-in to campaigns at the client end, meaning there is no room for confusion. And then regular and honest feedback. Clients and agency account teams have a shared view of success and they enjoy achieving it together.

Tell us about one of the clients you are working with at the moment. How are the campaigns for the company going?

That’s really hard – picking ONE client! We take them all so personally! But I’d probably pick the work we’ve been doing with apprentices recently, as it’s been great work and it’s about creating jobs for young people, which is always rewarding. We started off with – which is about encouraging creative agencies and marketing departments to realise that apprentices apply to them (160 expressions of interest to date). We started in Manchester, spread to Liverpool and we’re now talking about London and other cities. On the back of this we were then asked to do a more general campaign, which we’ve just launched, under the ‘YES to apprenticeships’ banner and which is also doing well.

Is there a potential client you’d love to work for?
I’d love (love love) to work with Laura Ashley – this is (I admit) purely personal as I love its clothes and my house is full of its furniture and wallpaper/paint!!

About you

Do you use social media? If so, how useful do you find it?

Twitter has changed the way I work. I use it to ask questions and carry out research, I keep in touch and network with more good people than was possible before and I can’t remember the last piece of breaking news that I didn’t hear about on twitter first. It’s become a real game changer, even though there were plenty in my industry who just didn’t get it at first.

I’ve found LinkedIn to be more useful than I remember it in the past and I’m tending to use it more and more. I don’t think there has been any fundamental improvement to the technology that has changed my view of it. I think it’s more to do with how it is being used. At first LinkedIn was just packed full of CVs and recruitment agencies, which wasn’t much use to me. Nowadays I see more constructive use of groups and sharing of ideas and information, which I’m sure was the vision for LinkedIn in the first place. But I’m starting to get a bit annoyed at the ‘in-mail’ (otherwise known as ‘spam’) I’m starting to get more and more of – watch this space (or follow me on Twitter @sandylindsay) for more thoughts/rants on this subject!

Are you involved in any other projects?

I lead a student retention and recruitment programme called Manchester Masters, which is all about recruiting and retaining the best graduate talent for Manchester and lead Creative Break (mentioned above). I am also an Ambassador for Apprenticeships, Vice Chair of Forever Manchester – a grass roots charity – and North West Chair of the PRCA.

[img|jpg|Sandy Lindsay, Group MD]
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