Published on Jan 17, 2017 by Leo Whitlock
On October 16, the Kentish Gazette will celebrate its 300th birthday. This incredible achievement is one the family-owned KM Media Group is intensely proud of.
That pride comes from the fact the grand old lady is flourishing in this ever-changing digital world and the fact her success can be directly attributed to her team's adherence to the traditional values that has built three centuries' worth of trust with our audience and our advertisers.
Two decades into the internet age, the Kentish Gazette is highly profitable and the journalism her team produces has never been read by such a big audience.
That means those who choose to advertise with us can reach more of their customers so much more easily than before and their businesses are expanding as a result. Our success is their success.
The Kentish Gazette is no longer simply a newspaper brand. It exists online and on the most popular social media platforms too. That means we have never been more in touch with our audiences and our advertisers have never been more in control of the money they spend. They can measure the impact of their investment with a click of a mouse.
Change and transformation are not always easy but the KM Media Group loves facing new challenges, is quick to react and has traditionally been at the cutting edge.
Our family-owned company, which started as the Maidstone Telegraph in 1859, began to transform itself into an multimedia company in the 1990s when it invested in radio stations which have now become kmfm. Its website KentOnline was launched in 2000 and was the first to deliver local video news.
Our internet television station KMTV is already broadcasting the most important stories from around the county and its new and complementary terrestrial station is just around the corner.
All this is proof, if it were needed, that local media continues to go from strength to strength.
In October 2016, KentOnline attracted a record-breaking 2.64m unique browsers and 16.55m page impressions. In Canterbury, Whitstable, Herne Bay and Faversham, stories generated by the Gazette team attracted 528,000 unique browsers and well over a million page impressions from an area with a population of around 200,000 people.
The KM Media Group's digital revenues continue to grow - they are up 178% over the last 4 years - and this has evolved into a multi-million pound business. So how has the Kentish Gazette managed to stand out in an increasingly noisy, competitive and fragmented marketplace where the smartphone dominates almost everyone's lives? By adopting the very same principles as our predecessors did in 1717 and producing content that is trusted, is high quality and is worth giving up your precious time to consume. We want to tell the most interesting and most important stories that are relevant to our audiences in the most compelling way, as quickly as possible, while doing everything we can to get our facts right.
We want finding out what is going in the world around them to be easy for those that consume our output.
We love the quirky and the human interest stories but we don't con our readers into clicking on links that promise so much but fail to deliver. We have new tools to help us. Smartphones allow us to take more pictures to complement those of our highly-skilled professional photographers, allow us to make and take video and allow us to gather audio for our radio bulletins.
Our vast social media following helps us to find news, promote our stories and be part of our audience's lives. They talk to us and we talk to them like never before. The Kentish Gazette team is expert in social media, search engine optimisation and online analytics to measure the success or otherwise of its content. The newsroom is adapting to the way you live your lives. We are changing our shift patterns to match the times you are online.
Will we carry on being successful? Being a family-owned company means our shareholders are focused on long-term success. The firm's 157-year track record is testament to that. They are happy to invest in the future and that means journalism too.
Two inalienable facts will see us through:
- Life is local and always will be - 97% of people spend half or more of their time within 10 miles of home and 89% of people spend half or more of their money within 10 miles.
- Our 300-year-old heritage, a track record like no other, means we are trusted by our audience and advertisers. Our values are their values.
Advances in technology and business models means there is a lot more change around the corner.
But together we can embrace that change and look forward to a bright future.
Leo Whitlock, Editor of the Kentish Gazette, KM Media Group