Southampton hires Kite for top PR post

Southampton City Council has appointed London Borough of Havering media and marketing manager Liz Kite to fill its top communications post.

Kite joined as head of communications this week, overseeing a team of 16.

She steps into a revamped role following a department audit by public sector specialist Grant Riches Communications, and a subsequent shake-up that cut management tiers, removing the senior officer roles.

Kite will take charge of a six-strong press office and a corporate comms team of six, plus staff in internal comms, marketing, PR and publications. She reports to council executive director Mike Smith.

With responsibility for promoting the city internally and nationally, she said: ‘It is an exciting time for Southampton because of the changes in the communications department. My new role is about managing the strategic communications for the authority and making sure the communications are right for the audience.’

The previous head of communications, Chris Elliot, left the post 18 months ago to set up his own consultancy. Since then the post has been filled on an interim basis by corporate comms manager Tim Smith.

The city promotes itself as a port and for its standing as a venue for international sailing races such as the Volvo Ocean Races and the Tall Ships Races.

PR manager Dave Bennett said: ‘Southampton has an international standing because we are the UK’s leading cruise port. The QEII and other large cruise liners all sail from here.

‘The challenge for the comms department in the future is in getting people to understand local government and what it can do for them, and to get local government to understand what is required of it, while its resources are limited.’

In her last job at Havering, one of the largest London borough councils, Kite reported to head of strategy and comms Jonathan Owen and was responsible for reputation management and sponsorship.

Prior to that, Kite was the marketing manager at YMCA England. Her previous communication posts were at Barking and Havering Health Authority and Anglia Polytechnic University.

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