Zest The Agency was appointed to handle Ashford Borough Council’s national public relations as part of a proactive PR campaign (over two years) to raise the area’s profile as a place to invest, work, live and visit. The campaign’s aim is to emphasise three key selling points for Ashford – location, innovation and success – and recently added the theme of lifestyle, to encourage people to move to or visit the area.

Ashford’s story has resonated with journalists looking to find a positive response to the current uncertainty within the high street and council funding following the withdrawal of the Revenue Support Grant. While many councils have struggled with the reduction in funding and have opted for a series of public service cutbacks and closures to recoup the fiscal balance, Ashford Borough Council took a different approach and adopted a progressive business-like stance. Stating boldly that “the council is run like a business” pricked the ears of journalists, many of whom were keen to investigate and experience the Ashford approach.

When journals such as the Economist visit and write positively about the challenges and changes in Ashford, it is not long before a national story goes global. Zest arranged a press visit for a visit from ARTE – a French television company keen to report on increased footfall and shopping mall success and Ashford’s approach.

As news spread, we were fielding enquiries from the New York Times and hosting a visit from one of its journalists and photographers. A resulting article written by Peter Goodman and published in the New York Times and online dominated a full page comparing two councils with different approaches to austerity. Zest have propelled Ashford from regional coverage to trade and then national coverage, European coverage and finally global, by attracting the attention of the New York Times.

The overall stats of the campaign are impressive as is the potential reach, but the physical reach is what has helped define the campaign so far. Good stories pitched right still go global.

Zest has to date achieved the following positive national and regional coverage and press visits:

  • The New York Times
  • The Guardian – three times
  • The Times
  • The Daily Telegraph
  • The Daily Express
  • The Daily Mirror
  • The Economist
  • Metro
  • The London Evening Standard
  • ARTE – France (TV)
  • The Property Journal

New York Times reach

Estimated website page views  331million /month
Domain authority 95/100 which is Excellent
Facebook shares             300
Facebook reactions         559
Facebook comments       102
Twitter shares                  482

Publication frequency Daily
Media outlet type National newspaper
Circulation* Edit 571,500 /issue
Estimated opportunities to see 1 million