Alumni Spotlight: Derek Kirk

By Nicola Brown, MPC2014

Derek Kirk

Derek Kirk brings us into the world of corporate communications at Tangerine and the importance of a bigger purpose in brand storytelling.

What made you decide you wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in the communication field?

Writing has always been something I have enjoyed, so it was a natural decision. While completing my undergraduate degree in Communication Studies and History I had the opportunity to get firsthand experience in corporate communications, events and community relations through summer student positions at Toronto Hydro. That’s where I caught the bug and made moves to pursue a Master’s degree to further my career ambitions in communications.

You are now a Communications Specialist at Tangerine. Tell us a bit about your current role.

I work in corporate communications at Tangerine, where I’m responsible for developing and leading external communications for the bank with a focus on brand and product. Having joined Tangerine shortly after the brand transition from ING Direct, I have worked alongside an amazing integrated team of marketing and communication professionals to tell the Tangerine story. My role is a great mix of communications strategy, public relations, media relations, issues management, experiential marketing/sponsorship and internal communications.

With a small in-house communications team, I work closely with the C-Suite and stakeholders across the bank and manage our external PR agency to develop integrated communication campaigns that connect with Canadians.

Since joining Tangerine in March 2015, I have worked on some amazing campaigns ranging from national events supporting Tangerine’s #BrightWayForward sponsorship and community investment program alongside program ambassador Steve Nash, to product launches like the launch of the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Other campaigns I have worked on include seasonal activations around Financial Literacy Month, RSP Season, back-to-school and holidays, and issues management including Tangerine’s response to the Fort McMurray wildfires in Alberta.

Tangerine has taken a different approach to some of Canada’s traditional banks when it comes to brand storytelling. Can you tell us a bit about some of the tactics the company uses to differentiate itself?

Prior to joining Tangerine I worked agency-side where I told the stories of a number of national and high-profile brands. Something that really appeals to me about Tangerine is their approach and position as a challenger to the traditional banks.

Apart from being a digital bank, I think what sets Tangerine apart and is evident in all our communications, be it out-of-home advertising to digital media to PR or events, is that Tangerine has a purpose beyond just banking. They have always been a challenger, the ‘little guy’ who wanted to offer Canadians a better choice. You can really see that communicated in our recent brand spot ‘Hard Work’. Ultimately, we want to help Canadians live better lives by making banking simple and convenient, helping them keep more of their hard-earned money in their pockets.

Personal finance can often be overwhelming and complex, but Tangerine strives to make banking simple and advocates for financial literacy. You can see that in our Forward Thinking blog, which has a ton of great content for just that. It is also evident in recent initiatives like our RSP season panel event at BrainStation, which featured a diverse panel of personal finance experts and lifestyle influencers who shared personal stories and experiences with investing.

You spent some time at St. Joseph Media working on a variety of magazines. Has your experience in the publishing world influenced how you approach corporate communications at a bank?

Definitely. Both St. Joseph Media and my time spent at a PR agency taught me a lot. I had the opportunity to work on a number of brands and communicate the voices of those different brands – often simultaneously. All very different environments but you only grow and learn from those experiences.

Fun Facts

Newest obsession?

The Affair. Go watch it now.

Latest read?

When not reading the news or about personal finance… I just started The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa.

Software you can’t live without?

Spotify and the Podcast app on my iPhone – key survival tools when commuting in Toronto.

Best advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t sell yourself short.