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Name: Kate Burgess-Craddy

Member since: 2015

Tell us about your business:
We are KBC, an award-winning marketing and PR agency specialising in the travel, tourism and leisure sectors. We have 18 years’ experience working with some of the best clients in the world, from international holiday destinations like Florida and British Columbia, to commercial clients in the leisure and tourism industry like Leisure Pass Group and Virgin Holidays. We now represent 14 US states in the UK for their marketing and/or public relations activities, more than any other company. We take brands, destinations and companies and get people talking about them. In a good way. And if ever people want to say bad things, it’s our job to minimise the negative impact and handle the crisis.

The beginning - your ‘eureka’ moment:
Back in 1998 I was invited to pitch as a freelancer for a major PR account, even though I was still officially employed elsewhere at that point. I didn’t win the account, but just being invited to pitch made me realise I was marketable and had skills other companies were willing to pay well for. Having just had my second child and not wanting to return to corporate life and an un-family friendly boss, setting up KBC was the obvious way forward and I’ve never regretted it.

The best and the worst of times:
Over the 18 years of KBC there have been many highs and lows, but the best highs have always been things like generating major features focusing on our clients in key publications, winning new accounts, getting increased fees from the clients we already have as they’re so pleased with what we’re doing, and winning awards. We’ve now won four Travel Marketing Awards which are great accolades. I also won Business Person of the Year and Small Business of the Year at the inaugural Uckfield Business Awards in 2013. I’ve been lucky to travel all over the world for my work and truly love it – my joy of exploration has never dimmed. The lows are always hard to deal with but you have to get on with things and not let them takeover. My first major blow was losing a major account I’d won and held for nine years. It felt like personal grief and made me question all the sacrifices I’d made over the years to keep that client happy, including the times I’d missed major events in my children’s lives because I was away working. But that was eight years ago now and I’ve got stronger and smarter as a result of that experience. Dealing with difficult staff situations is probably the worst thing that crops up every few years. Whether that’s because of a personality mismatch, poor performance or restructuring, it’s still something I find very hard to do and really do not enjoy. Experience doesn’t make it easier – it just teaches you to hold your ground and to tackle things in a more timely manner!

What gets you out of bed in the morning - what motivates you?:
Because nearly all our clients are in different time zones around the world I always love to check first thing to see what emails have come in overnight. Being an eternal optimist I’m always hoping for good news, opportunities and ideas. I also love reading or hearing news features that give me ideas for new approaches for our own clients and getting in to the office to discuss them with the team and then see them come to fruition. Ultimately though, I enjoy running the business, keeping the team going and making the money to pay everyone and reward myself for my effort and risk.