Publisher and founder of MMM, Rasa Dregva, takes a look back at the creation and evolution of your favourite free Kent magazine.
THEY say the mightiest oaks grow from the smallest acorns – and that has never been truer of MMM.
It must have been around six years ago that the seed was planted in my mind that there was a place in the Kent market for a quality magazine aimed at the Maidstone and Medway market.
It was perhaps inevitable that the working title would be MMM – Maidstone and Medway Magazine – and it proved so catchy, it would become the brand you know so well today.
Looking across the county’s publications, there was a trend towards titles aimed at very localised markets. I spoke and got some great advice from Nick Moore who was behind the So Tunbridge Wells title. He agreed there was scope and gave the seal of approval to my business plan. It was the blessing of a publication already in the market which swelled my confidence in my plans to go it alone.
Having worked in local media for 10 years, I was well aware of the needs and demands of businesses facing some of the toughest economic challenges in recent years, so my aim was simple – deliver a quality title and make it a publication that was perfect for them to get their message out to the widest possible audience.
The first few issues were a blur of hitting deadlines, working out page designs and lay-outs. I had some wonderful friends and previous clients who supported us and helped get MMM off the ground. To them I will always be grateful.
There was one memorable moment which has stayed with me ever since. I was attending an event at the Mercure Great Danes in Maidstone where the special guest was the boxer Michael Watson. You may remember he had been involved in a WBO super-middle weight title fight with Chris Eubank in 1991. He suffered terrible brain injuries during the course of the bout and defied the odds to simple survive.
His tale of recovery is truly inspirational. We sat together on a sofa at the hotel and I explained I had just launched MMM. He turned to me and, speaking in a slow voice, said simply: “Rasa, if you do it from the heart, it will work.”
I must admit it is something which I often take strength from.
It quickly became apparent that MMM’s popularity was breaking out of its Medway and Maidstone heartland. We had advertisers coming to us from Swale and Ashford and they just kept on coming.
So MMM dropped its geographic limitations and became a truly countywide publication. It is something we did not expect but were keen to embrace.
And as our circulation grew, so did our reputation.
Everywhere I went I took copies of our magazine. A regular visitor to Goodwood for its extraordinary Festival of Speed and other events, I would mingle with the great and the good and the magazine always drew admiring glances – even from Lord March, the founder of the festival!
I brushed shoulders with the likes of Strictly Come Dancing’s Len Goodman, the Small Faces’ Kenney Jones loved MMM, and flashed its pages at events such as the prestigious Salon Prive at Blenheim Palace and London.
I also had a fascinating chat with Anthony Russell, grandson of Lady Baillie, the last private owner of Leeds Castle. He waxed lyrical about his remarkable childhood spending time with a castle as a playground.
Admittedly there was a rather embarrassing incident when I was at the Village Hotel where I was introduced to a gentleman who asked my name. I introduced myself and then asked who he was. There were plenty of laughs from nearby when it was pointed out this was the guest of honour at the event – the former Arsenal and Tottenham goalkeeper Pat Jennings – one of the legends of the game and a World Cup hero!
Creating MMM has been something of a rollercoaster ride over the years, but the highs have always outweighed the challenges and it remains something I am immensely proud of.
I hope you would agree we have grown considerably over the last five years. And this is only the start of the journey.
Feedback from you will help shape our future, so please never hesitate to get in touch. We always love hearing from you.
And to all those we have interviewed, who have helped us, who have advertised with us, I owe an enormous debt of gratitude.
So here’s to the first five years – now raise a glass to the next five!