2020 has been the year where so many more people have enjoyed the freedom of the great outdoors, exploring the countryside! Our next brand story is from CPRE Kent, known as the countryside charity who campaign on all rural matters. Oak Creative is proud to have been a partner to the Kent branch of CPRE for over a decade producing their magazine title ‘Kent Voice’. We wanted to find out what new challenges 2020 has brought and what the future brings.
Q: Tell us about your journey through 2020:
A: Our work at CPRE Kent falls into two parts: firstly we campaign for the Kent Countryside and secondly we produce the Kent Voice magazine.
Throughout 2020 the campaigning side of CPRE has been business as usual because much of it involves responding to planning applications, inputting to white papers and being a representative body on countryside matters. In fact we are busier than ever with this side of the charity’s work because there are a huge number of development plans in Kent for the next 3 – 5 years.
In terms of the Kent Voice magazine which we publish twice a year, we completed and mailed out the Spring/Summer edition just days before the first UK Lockdown. We then prepared the Autumn/Winter edition which launched in October, just before the second UK lockdown. Unfortunately however, we usually distribute the magazine at Kent events and these were all cancelled this year. The reach of our magazine has therefore been considerably lower and as a result our donations and membership levels have plummeted. We mail out to 3000 addresses each year but we rely on our face to face events to engage with people about what we do and share the magazine with them too.
We were fortunate that we have enough funding reserves which meant we were able to continue operating through 2020. Bar one, our team has been working remotely since March and we do not plan to return to the office until 2021. We did have to purchase a few additional laptops but on the whole we’ve adapted very well to the new set up and our productivity is higher.
Q: What role has your brand identity played during the pandemic?
A: Our goal as a charity is to give a voice to communities and we have continued to do that throughout the pandemic. CPRE Kent is the countryside charity and nationally we campaign on all kinds of matters from biodiversity, pollution, litter and dark skies. All of these issues have remained relevant through 2020, it’s just that our team have adjusted their working in line with restrictions. In Kent specifically where we have a significant number of building plans, so we are known for helping communities to navigate the planning system and that’s a reputation we’ve maintained this year.
In addition this year has meant many more people walking in the countryside, which is so wonderful to see. On the flip side there has of course been increased levels of litter and fly tipping. At CPRE Kent we respond to all these kinds of matters to try and protect our countryside, which is what our brand represents.
Much of the above is in turn featured in our Kent Voice magazine. A large percentage of our audience belong to farming community, as well as MPs and local authorities. It is crucial that we deliver the voice of the countryside and the stories featured often concern specific issues which are relevant to them.
Q: What does the next 12 months look like for your business?
A: Like many organisations it is very hard to predict the future. The onset of a vaccine is very positive news for so many industries and we very much hope that the events industry will return in 2021. It is so important for CPRE Kent to be present at events where we can talk to people and spread the message about how CPRE Kent helps their communities. If all goes ahead then we will attend the Kent Show, Ploughing Matches and other country fairs and farming events. In the meantime we will of course keep campaigning and producing the Kent Voice magazine, because the magazine is the best way to report on projects and bring to life exactly what we do.
Q: How important has having a creative partner been for building your brand?
A: Working with Oak Creative to deliver our Kent Voice publication brings professionalism to the production process. It is a true partnership whereby we all have a role to fulfil and the process is incredibly smooth. CPRE Kent handles the editing in house, Oak Creative produces the design and we liaise with our printers and mail house for production and delivery. As the magazine has developed over the years we have been working together, the design has evolved and the imagery has got bolder.
Visit CPRE Kent’s website to find out more details on projects they are carrying out to help protect our County.