Waterstones’ appointment of Pan Macmillan’s Sandra Taylor (pictured) as head of events and external relations marks a renewed drive for the retailer to broaden its events profile.
Taylor, a former Bookseller Rising Star who has worked on publicity campaigns for titles such as Burial Rites by Hannah Kent and The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton among others, will begin at the chain in October and plans a succession of events which help customers engage with authors and publishing “that they haven't had the opportunity to do before.”
On Taylor’s hiring, Rik McShane, Waterstones retailer director, said: “Sandra's appointment definitely marks a renewed drive to broaden our events profile. We have a fantastic team in Piccadilly and a host of eager and passionate booksellers out in the shops who already deliver a varied and successful programme of events across the country, but we know we can always do more. Sandra will be bringing her considerable expertise to bear on the wider estate, looking at different ways in which we can help our customers engage with authors and publishing that they haven't had the opportunity to do before.”
He indicated that a more vibrant events programme would be rolled out across the estate, not just in larger Waterstones stores. “It's not just the big shops like Piccadilly where we want to focus, though clearly these large metropolitan shops give us a unique opportunity to do something completely different in terms of events, I believe every shop no matter how small can bring relevant exciting events to their community,” McShane said. “Whilst Sandra and the head office team will continue to support our national author tours and work with festivals and high profile events, we also want to get out and about, helping train and enthuse our teams, loosening the reins if you like, so that each and every shop can take responsibility for developing its own unique profile of readings, signings and activities.”
Taylor will also be the first point of contact for external relations and responsible for the company's media profile alongside events. However, McShane said the role was different to that formerly occupied by Jon Howells and Fiona Allen, the chain's former PR and brand communications duo, who left the company in May this year because media would now have direct relationships with buyers and m.d James Daunt.
Taylor, who has worked in Pan Macmillan’s publicity department since 2005, said she thought it was an “exciting time” to be joining Waterstones. “The opportunity to be part of its senior team, who are working with drive and passion towards positively changing and developing the business, was one I couldn’t turn down,” she said. “In my current role as a book publicist, I tend to come at things from an author’s point of view and I’m very much looking forward to using my expertise to help connect more Waterstones customers to more authors and their books.”
Taylor added that Pan Macmillan was an “extremely hard place to leave” and that her nine years at the company had been “formative and hugely enjoyable.”