strategic PR overturns media blacklisting to secure coverage marketing Kent Sussex London

Overturning poor reputation and media blacklisting

The incoming General Manager inherited a difficult legacy. A period of leadership instability had led to mixed customer experiences and reviews, and the hotel was blocked by key local media due to a conflict of interest. Our brief was to help restore its reputation.



Successful PR, raising brand profile

Repeat retail and business bookings


Application success – raising profile further

The Challenge

With the owner of the local newspaper and magazine also owning two rival venues, coverage of Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells had been blocked by the target titles. With more than 250 hospitality venues competing for customers within the Borough, we were briefed with finding creative ways to circumvent the media blacklisting to raise the hotel’s title and restore confidence among local consumers following a period of leadership churn.

The strategy

We suggested that the hotel stage social, business and charity events of sufficient scale that it would be impossible for the local media to omit them. We provided introductions to brands with aligned values to curate an events calendar that had greater magnitude than the hotel could achieve on its own. This additionally helped increase the hotel’s database of warm retail and business customers, which we leveraged further through digital marketing campaigns to encourage repeat bookings and positive reviews, alongside proactive social campaigns and sector award applications. All this was wrapped in a charm offensive with the local media, nurturing our strong relationships with the editorial and sales teams.

The outcome

Sharp Minds met the objective of increasing brand recognition for Hotel du Vin within the target locality as a go-to hospitality venue for domestic and business events.

We successfully overturned the media blacklisting, securing monthly coverage in target local publications. Helping the hotel secure five prestigious award wins within two years further raised its profile and brand currency with target demographics. Combined with improved online reviews, the poor perceptions due to previous inconsistent customer experiences were largely reversed, with repeat customer bookings increasing.

Go deeper

For a deep dive into this project, read our full overview