In Profile: Linda Todd

By Anita Jaynes on 15 December, 2016

Linda is managing director of Geometry, an award-winning communications agency established in 2001.

Using both traditional and digital media, Geometry has a track record of delivering targeted public relations campaigns for businesses throughout the South West and further afield. We met with Linda to find out more about her and Geometry.

What did you do before Geometry?
I worked for various agencies but my most interesting role was in house at the City Hospital in Edinburgh where I was part of the team that communicated the closure of the Hospital. It was a difficult role but it gave me first-hand experience and a good appreciation of how to manage communicating in sensitive situations.

What do you love most about PR?

PR is an ever changing discipline, so it never gets boring. The advent of online and social media for example, as well as new technologies and communications channels mean we are always challenged and always learning.

It’s also a fascinating job because to do it well you need to understand your clients and their markets. Being able to write a press release isn’t enough. You need to get under the skin of the client’s business and culture. In a way we often have to understand them better than they understand themselves.

Adding real value to their business objectives is the reward, along with becoming a trusted and valued ally. I have lost count of the number of clients who have become genuine, long-lasting friends.

What’s the most exciting campaign you’ve worked on?
The campaign to push for Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) for the Cornish Pasty was one we were heavily and intimately involved in for years. It was a campaign that resulted in a genuinely historic moment, and was of huge value to the South West.

How far has your news travelled for a client?
When PGI status was granted for the Cornish Pasty we literally told the world. In a single day of highly organised media work we got the announcement onto primetime news as far afield as Australia, as well as on every UK news channel, and even the big TV and radio chat shows. It showed just what can be achieved through planning by a smaller, yet passionate, skilled and dedicated PR team.

If you could give one top PR tip, what would it be?
Don’t think PR is just about being able to write and liaise with the media. It is so much more than that. Have an interest and an understanding of markets and routes-to-market, and most importantly, understand that this is a people profession and one where you need to be able to work well with colleagues and clients, not just journalists.

As a PR co you often write award submissions. Do you have any advice for award writing success?
Yes, let Geometry do it for you. We have finally come to appreciate our own expertise in this area. At the start of the year we did an audit of award entries we’d compiled previously on behalf of clients and realised we achieved a 62% success rate in shortlistings and 28% success rate in wins. That success rate has improved in 2016 and we are now surprised and disappointed on the rare times we don’t have success for clients.

If I were to give advice it would be; read the criteria very, very carefully, and do what the award asks. Don’t overlook a thing. Also, be realistic, just because you like the sound of an award, be honest about whether you should enter it. Awards take a lot of time and resource. There’s no point speculatively entering an award if you aren’t 100% convinced you are in with a chance.

How are you different to the competition?
Passion and pride. We don’t just ‘do PR’, we are passionately committed to our clients and the work we do on their behalf. It’s not a 9 to 5 job for us, and we are often texting and emailing thoughts, observations and ideas to each other as they occur outside of work hours. We genuinely enjoy and feel passionate about doing the best for our clients and that is something our clients tell us they don’t see in their other suppliers.

Most important of all, we understand that above all else, PR is a business function. It’s there to achieve a business aim for our clients. This is where many agencies fall down when they only think in ‘fluffy’ terms. We are more of a ‘sleeves-rolled-up’ PR agency that is accountable and driven by achieving measurable results.

What is your biggest achievement to date?
We have won many, many awards for the work we’ve done on behalf of clients, as well as awards for the work we’ve done as a business on behalf of the community. We punch well above our weight with regards to the community work we do.

But aside from accolades, my biggest achievement is having many clients who have become friends, who trust us, and who come back to us year after year, or who take us with them as they move on in their careers and recommend us to others.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve learnt in business?
Not to take things too personally. Always try to leave relationships on a good note and not to be too disappointed when someone wants to leave the company be that a client or a colleague. I have had clients and employees return to us who I was sad to see leave but have come back in better shape.

Also, learn to trust your instinct and don’t go for every piece of business that comes your way, if you meet a business and don’t gel with them then perhaps you are better to recommend someone else not matter what size of budget they are dangling in front of you.

How do you support young people trying to cut their teeth in the industry?
Geometry has periodically employed apprentices and has worked closely with the City of Bath College to identify and recruit candidates who were looking for a business administration role so that they could complete their Business Administration NVQ. Our office manager Emma Sparks won a mentoring award in recognition of her in-house approach to developing apprentices at the Women in Business Awards.

We’ve also arranged work experience for pre-graduate school children and have worked with local secondary schools to provide week long work experience programmes. These provide young adults aged from 15 years to 18 years an opportunity to gain an insight into office life as well as a career in marketing. All students who participated were given specific projects to undertake and a work programme to ensure they get as much from the experience as possible.

What are your business ethics?
Geometry is a very ethical business that believes in helping the communities in which we work. From supporting local sports teams and initiatives, to fundraising, and helping young people develop careers, we have always made a much greater contribution than you would expect of a business of our size.

I also believe in being open, honest and transparent, whether that’s with the service we supply to clients, or with the team I have assembled.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I am a keen triathlete so when I am not running the business I am usually out running, swimming or cycling or chasing after my three children. I also like to watch a lot of sport, particularly rugby and now also ladies cricket, as my youngest daughter loves playing, so our house is a bit cricket mad!

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