Following the 2022 summer of negative media attention related to ‘Brexit chaos’ and holiday delays, we were appointed by the Port of Dover and its three ferry operators (P&O Ferries, DFDS Seaways, Irish Ferries), to advise on, plan and implement a communications strategy to promote the strengths, successes and vital role the Port plays in supporting tourism and business in the UK.
We developed a strategy based upon seven key pillars including Promoting Successes, Sustainability and Unification.
Having identified the crucial steps taken by the Port of Dover to minimise disruption, combined with the joined up and seamless approach being adopted by the Port and its system, we planned a month-by-month strategic media relations underpinned by an open and communicative journalist approach.
To inform government, holidaymakers, Dover’s local community and the logistics and travel industries about the Port of Dover’s crucial contribution to the UK, we organised a well-attended media briefing in London, attended by several national newspapers and national broadcast media outlets.
Alongside this, we arranged one-on-one briefings and tours for influential journalists at the Port itself.
These provided an opportunity for journalists to witness first-hand the Port’s high operational efficiency, advanced facilities and commitment to sustainability.
Each journalist who took part in these briefings had the opportunity to meet with Doug Bannister, CEO at the Port of Dover, who was able to offer in-depth insight into the Port’s strategic plans, ongoing developments and vision for the future.
Our media briefings, site visits and issues management advice have enabled Port of Dover to achieve a greater proportion of accurate, balanced and positive media coverage, despite the period including some significant incidents of travel delays. News coverage has included the Port’s key messaging, outlining its efficiency, reliability and dedication to implementing innovative measures to ease congestion.
The London media briefing event was attended by titles including the FT, The Times, The Sun, Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg and BBC. We also arranged subsequent site visits for several of these titles, giving them ‘behind the scenes’ access which has led to improved reporting.
As part of our ongoing activity, we forged a stronger relationship for Port of Dover with Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent and one of the UK’s foremost TV travel industry commentators.
We have given Simon privileged Port access, including personal tours by CEO Doug Bannister, with whom Simon enjoys extended one-to-one interview time. The investment of time has been immediately repaid, with Simon expressing gratitude and saying his reporting is better informed.
During subsequent appearances on TV and radio including ITV’s This Morning, Simon has been able to effectively handle incoming questions from the general public who ask for assurances on travel through the Port. Simon has repeatedly delivered supported messages about the Port of Dover’s passenger experience on broadcast channels, and also in his national print content. Simon consistently reassures the public that, having visited the Port and met with the CEO himself, he has full confidence in the Port’s operations over busy periods.