PROFILE: Alison Palmer, Orange - Orange glamour girl sees creative future. Chanel-wearing Alison Palmer prepares to spread the Orange message

The swish reception of Orange’s London HQ is a hive of glamorous activity. Camera crews, photographers and microphone-wielding journalists jostle for position.

The swish reception of Orange’s London HQ is a hive of glamorous

activity. Camera crews, photographers and microphone-wielding

journalists jostle for position.



Orange has just been awarded a third generation UMTS licence and the

company’s PR machine is cranked up to overdrive. Newly-installed as head

of UK media relations at Orange, Alison Palmer is in the thick of

things. Palmer’s face is flushed from the hectic morning.



She’s wearing a bright orange blouse. It’s very her. Very ... Orange.

’It’s Chanel, you know,’ she informs in a mock snobbish tone.



Meet Palmer, one-time art student, former BA stewardess, erstwhile

expatriate - and today all-round glamour PR girl for Orange.



’I’m a very glamorous person. I love clothes, fashion, being in with the

in-crowd. I see Orange as a reflection of me, of what I really love to

do; being dynamic, on the front line, being first, first, first with

everything, the whole glamour bit,’ says Palmer, who ’pitched out’ of

art school aged 18 to travel the world, subsequently booking a

three-year term as a BA flight attendant. In between there was a

fleeting sortie into television commercials, including one for Sky

Television where she was dressed in a bikini.



’I wanted to move into PR at BA. But I got used to the flash lifestyle,

the flying, meeting influential people,’ she says.



She saved enough to go to college for a year, to study communications,

advertising and marketing. After graduation she landed a job in Dubai

with a medical supply company, United Medical, with a role encompassing

sales, marketing and PR.



She returned to London with plans to head-up the company’s UK

recruitment office, but when it failed to materialise she joined

Garrard, the Crown Jewellers. There she worked under Sally Burton.

’Sally was brilliant: strong, professional, a real influence. I was in

the showroom a lot. It was very front line, a very glamorous job,’ says

Palmer.



In 1997, she joined BT to run PR and communications in the Global

Business Marketing department, managing accounts for companies such as

Natwest, HSBC and Amex.



’I think I made a difference at BT in everything I did. There’s so much

competition in the technology market. Everybody has something to say, so

to the media, it becomes the ’so what?’ factor. You have to be dynamic

to make sure the brand reaches the right area.’



She moved across for ’a stint’ at the BT Challenge round-the-world yacht

race, ramping up the international PR and working with Hill and

Knowlton.



Amy Creighton, now director-designate at Jackie Cooper PR, then at Hill

and Knowlton, worked with Palmer on the BT account.



’Alison is a scream-a-minute and has an effective combination of

enthusiasm for every project while always results-orientated. She is an

infectious person, very glamorous indeed, and a person everyone wants to

know and be with,’ says Creighton.



Palmer was poached back by the Global Business Marketing department, and

headed PR for the travel, transportation and leisure department. Tagged

on to that role, she says, was the leisure logistics sector.



’That was a big jump for me. Really exciting and challenging. BT was

going through great changes all the time, from the day I arrived, in

fact, splitting up into Concert and so on. There were some great

opportunities and I like to think I took them,’ she says.



She is well respected by her former colleagues at BT, but those that PR

Week contacted to shed more light on Palmer refrained from quoted

comment, citing a conflict of interest.



However, Valerie Buckle, BT’s head of strategic planning, said,

’Alison’s a great personality with a terrific sense of humour. She

certainly knows how to work hard, play hard and have fun.’



Palmer’s future at the moment looks distinctly orange.’I think at Orange

I am going to have a wider scope for creativity, I think the company is

more open to that side of things as it wants all the best sponsorship.

It wants to be known as glamorous, to be first. It wants to be famous

globally, to be known as leading edge. It’s a vision I share.’



She says her brief is to make simple Orange’s technological message both

to the media and the consumer. She heads a team of five but expansion is

underway. The market is fast moving, more so now the new licence has

been successfully bid for. ’I’ve got my structure head on at the

moment.



I like things orderly. Not in a bureaucratic style, not too rigid. But I

need a structure to allow my creativity to flow. A tidy house is a tidy

mind, isn’t that what they say? That is important,’ she says.



That and a touch of glamour, of course.





HIGHLIGHTS



1996: Marketing and PR manager, Garrard



1997: PR manager, BT



2000: PR manager, Orange.



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