Stephen Kitson

Director of Corporate Communications, Kia Motors (UK) Limited

Biography

Director of all corporate communications to the media, business and general public. Responsible for the presentation of the brand, product and company communications outside of marketing and sales areas. In charge of launching new products to the UK motoring media including National Daily Newspapers, broadcast and online media, regional daily and weekly publications, specialist motoring magazines and lifestyle titles as well as broadening the corporate message through social media.

Key successes: Unique launch of up-coming sports gran tourer, the Kia Stinger, operated on a global basis around the Detroit Motor Show – persuaded Korean head office, European and North American Regional offices to follow an unusual path to obtain maximum impact. Successful introduction of latest model Kia cee’d via a partnership with BBC Top Gear magazine that involved various celebrities including Bruce Willis, Eric Clapton and culminated in a game of “car rugby” played at Twickenham Stadium – home of English Rugby. Moving Kia’s brand reputation from that of a small-time, low image, price-focused brand to one in which style, performance, quality and desirability now lead.

2002-2004

Director of Marketing and PR
Hyundai World Rally Team

Responsible for all media, public and partner communications, activations and promotions for the Hyundai team taking part in the World Rally Championship. Responsible for a team attending 16 events in all parts of the world, providing media updates during the events and promoting the team to Hyundai distributors before, during and after events.

Key successes: Introducing a “placement” scheme for distributors to promote service excellence – the winner of a national competition joined the team to work during a round of the championship. This promoted improved image for the brand and raised service levels to customers. TV “rides” at testing events for broadcast companies to allow presenters and programme anchors to experience the reality of World Rally Championship cars.

1999-2002
Director of Global Public Relations
Hyundai Motor Company, Seoul, South Korea.

Responsible for creating a global PR department at the Korean head office, advising and supporting top executives in international communication.

Key successes: Persuading the “conservative” chairman of the company to undertake a series of global interviews with key media to begin the process of changing the brand image. Hosting BBC Hardtalk programme in South Korea for a live 30 minute interview with the company chairman – this had never previously occurred. Involved handling a demanding BBC News team and a conservative Korea corporate body with both sides having very different expectations. This even saw the company position broadcast to 180 countries and territories.

1994-1999

Press Relations Manager
Renault UK

Responsible for the Press Relations team providing vehicles, information and services to UK motoring media. Responsible for product launches. Responsible for supporting Renault UK’s motorsport programme communications.

1989-1994

Public Relations Manager
National Breakdown

Responsible for all company communications to media and public for motoring breakdown service

1981-1989

Industry and Motoring Editor
Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Journalist producing weekly motoring section, weekly industry section and daily news coverage and feature production – including coverage of the Bradford City football stadium fir and The Yorkshire Ripper murders.

1977-1981

Deputy Editor
Batley News and Morley Observer

Responsible for the production of two weekly newspapers serving two neighbouring communities plus producing news articles and features

Stephen’s participation has been made possible through Speakers for Schools partnership with the UK Automotive 30% Club and his school talks will include a focus on inspiring girls to consider opportunities in the automotive sector and encouraging all students to aim high.

Related speakers

David Picton

Chief Sustainability Officer, Carillion PLC

Professor Martyn Amos

Professor of Novel Computation

Sir Peter Wall

CEO Amicus, and formerly Head of the British Army

Will King

Founder & CEO, The King of Shaves Company Ltd

Jimmy Wales

Founder, Wikipedia

Dr Nira Chamberlain

Mathematician, Mathematical Modeller and Data Science Consultant & Vice President of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications