Five minutes with… Rob Tomkinson, Carrington Communications

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CityX took five minutes out of the busy schedule to speak to Rob Tomkinson of Carrington Communications, to find out more about his business, how 2019 has been and his plans for 2020:

Tell us about the business, what is it you do?

“Carrington is a digital PR and marketing agency based in Lincoln. We combine PR, search marketing and social media marketing expertise, all in one place.

“We help Lincolnshire businesses reach new customers and achieve their goals through PR, SEO, PPC and social media management.”

When was the business formed and how has that changed over the years?

“Carrington was founded in 2016 and was Lincoln’s first digital PR agency. In just three years, we’ve grown into a team of five full-time PR and marketing experts who now work with some of Lincolnshire’s best-known businesses, including Duncan & Toplis, Doddington Hall, Lincoln Drill Hall, Lincoln College and Minster Group.

“We build long-lasting client relationships that deliver great results. Our clients tell us that it’s the quality of our work, our reporting, our customer contact and our team culture that sets us apart from other agencies.”

How has your industry changed over time?

“Carrington was founded to give businesses a local agency that not only delivered great results, but would measure those results openly and accurately too. As the PR and marketing industry has developed, it’s become more important to have experts in paid, earned, shared and owned media all under one roof to give our customers a complete service.

“As the industry has matured, many outdated and unethical practices have been shown up for what they are – take the dreaded ‘AVE’ in PR or the many ‘black hat’ SEO tricks that used to be commonplace. The industry has moved with customers as they become more savvy about how they consume their news, what happens to their personal data and how they choose to combine ‘bricks and clicks’ when it comes to their shopping habits.

“We’ve always used the AMEC Integrated Evaluation Framework to measure the impact of each PR and communications campaign, and we combine keyword data, search rankings, brand search, impression share and, most importantly, conversion rates, to measure real return on investment in digital marketing.”

What are your future plans for the business?

“We’ve grown well so far and have started to make a name for ourselves in the area through our work – the next three years will be all about building on that. We’ll invest more in the team, developing them to keep progressing in their careers so they want to stay with us.

“We’ll look to win new clients around Lincolnshire where we can add real value to their marketing. Of course, we’ll also keep working hard to maintain our existing client relationships and getting to know as much as we can about their future business plans, so that we can deliver the best results for their needs.”

What do you think the future holds for your industry?

“I think we’ll see the hand of PR at work more and more as brands look to highlight their sustainable and socially responsible credentials. Consumers will demand this, especially when it comes to environmental impact – PR will play a huge role in supporting this messaging.

“The line between PR and SEO will continue to blur. Search results will become ever more personalised as search engine algorithms continue to develop, but quality ‘mainstream’ news as well, as those who consume it, will fight back against ‘fake news’.

“And as automation increasingly creeps into more marketing tasks, the role of the expert will become essential. Our job of helping clients to navigate the many marketing channels and make sense of the data deluge will become more needed than ever.”

Tell us a bit about how the business has done in 2019?

“We turned three years old, we grew from three to five members of staff and we moved into new, bigger offices in Nettleham, where we have room to grow. This involved leaving the business incubation centre BG Futures six months ahead of schedule – a great sign of how far we’ve come.

“Our newly branded website went live – complete with loads of new case studies showing what we’ve been doing. That was an exciting moment.

“We’ve built some really strong working relationships this year with other agencies, like SOKA Studio and Purple Robot which helps us to diversify the services we can provide through cooperation.

“We were also shortlisted for our legal PR work in the national Lexis Nexis Legal Awards as well the Lincolnshire Technology & Innovation Awards, which I hope will be the start of things to come for us with regional and industry awards.”

What are your proudest moments within the business in 2019?

“Often in our industry, the proudest moments come from the work we do for our clients. For example, last year we helped Lincoln Drill Hall raise more than £100k through its ‘Be a Brick’ campaign. I’m proud of all the coverage and results we’ve achieved and the positive impact that its had on the businesses we work with.

“It was also pretty special when we needed a table for five for the Christmas party – a bit different from our first year! It’s small moments like this that make me proud of what the business has become.”

What can customers expect from the business in 2020?

“Our customers will be pleased to hear this – we’ll be doing more to say thank you for their business in 2020! Too many agencies take their customers for granted but we won’t fall into that trap.

“You’ll hear more from us, definitely – but not too much! We’ve grown so far by shouting about the work we’ve done for our clients, rather than shouting about ourselves and that won’t change. When they do well, so do we.”

What are your goals for 2020?

“To keep growing, and to give more back. The two should come hand in hand. We’ve recently signed up to the Lincoln Social Responsibility Charter but that’s just the start: As we grow, we want to support more good causes around Lincoln.”

How do you plan to achieve the goals you have set out?

“We’ve got exciting plans to grow, but in ways which protect what we’ve built so far. And we’re planning to start giving a percentage of our profits each year to charity.”