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A brave new world

By Kathryn Tye
From left, Josh Whitten, Jonnie Jensen, MP Damian Collins, Sian Holt, Luke Quilter, Steve Hamilton
From left, Josh Whitten, Jonnie Jensen, MP Damian Collins, Sian Holt, Luke Quilter, Steve Hamilton

"There is a lot going on and it's a very exciting time."

That was the positive verdict on the county's digital industry issued by Folkestone and Hythe MP Damian Collins at today's Digital in Kent event.

MP Damian Collins
MP Damian Collins

The Conservative MP, also the small business ambassador for the south east, told delegates at Folkestone's Quarterhouse that he was excited to see the number and variety of new creative, digital businesses in the county.

He said: "The high speed rail link has helped people to think about living and working in Kent. It is good value for money and offers a great quality of life. This is the place to be.

"Before I became an MP I worked in advertising, so I have a great interest in the creative industries. It is something I want to champion and encourage. I think it is an incredibly exciting time for this part of the country and for this sector of the economy.

Steve Hamilton, Head of Commercial Digital at the KM Group
Steve Hamilton, Head of Commercial Digital at the KM Group

"And with a range of government schemes offering financial backing to new and expanding businesses there's never been a better time to do it. And never a better place to do it."

It is the second Digital in Kent event, a marketing, technology and social media conference staged in association with Kent Business.

First staged in April this year, it attracts representatives from businesses of all sizes, aiming to inspire them to maximise their use of digital tools.

Today's event featured keynote talks, practical workshops and networking opportunities, accompanied by beers and pizzas sponsored by Folkestone search and social marketing agency Sleeping Giant Media.

Speakers included UK industry experts such as Tim Arnold, Martin Smith, Leonard Weinreich and Bill MacLachlan, along with the KM's own head of commercial digital, Steve Hamilton.

Tim, who works in a non-executive chairman role with Sleeping Giant Media, also ran a workshop titled 10 Ways to Boost Your Brand (In The Digital Age).

Tim Arnold
Tim Arnold

He said: "I enjoy events like this because I feel it is important as an expert to share your knowledge with others. They also allow you to learn new things and reinforce what you already knew.

"I have been in this industry for a long time, and the expansion in new digital technology means that the importance of brand and communications is stronger than ever."

His view was shared by Jonnie Jensen, founder of Maidstone-based social media firm Live+Social, and chairman of Digital in Kent.

He said: "You only need a laptop, broadband and an idea to start a business now. The writing is on the wall for any traditional business that is not embracing digital.

Jonnie Jensen, chairman of Digital in Kent
Jonnie Jensen, chairman of Digital in Kent

"But anyone can get involved, and that is the aim of this event, to inspire and motivate with our keynote talks, but also give practical tips in workshops and speed sessions which people can take back and put into practice straight away.

"The tools and tricks are just channels to customers.

"We have had around 100 people attend today's event and some really top grade people speaking, which I am really pleased about.

"We will be organising some follow-up webinars, as we want to keep the conversation open with people."

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