Chapter Chat: Kent Kimes

Kent Kimes is a PR professional and storytelling ninja who wields words with impact and influence. His writing chops come as no surprise since Kent entered the world of public relations following an impressive 20-year journalism career.

Most recently, Kent was a senior staff writer for the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA), where he managed the organization’s blog, spearheaded the Authority’s annual report, managed his department’s award entries, co-led the launch of the Authority’s podcast and more for the No. 1 convention, sports and entertainment destination in the world.

Prior to the GWCCA, Kent was a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, government reporter for The Georgetown Times, arts and entertainment writer for The Augusta Chronicle, staff writer for OneStop.Com, pop culture reporter and assistant features editor for The Sun News, and founding editor of alt-weekly publication The Weekly Surge. He has also freelanced for various publications, including Creative Loafing, Grand Strand Magazine, Strafford Publications, and CARE. (Editor’s note: It might have been shorter to list the publications that Kent hasn’t written for.)

In addition to his busy and budding career, Kent has generously shared his time and writing talents with PRSA Georgia since joining as a member in 2015. His volunteerism runs deep and just earlier this year, he was honored as January’s Chapter Champion award winner. Kent wrote the script for the 2018 and 2019 Awards Celebration, serving as the off-stage announcer for both events. In 2019, he served as co-chair of the e-newsletter committee and this year, he continues his involvement by contributing feature content to the weekly newsletter and website.

This installment of Chapter Chat, a member-focused profile series offering industry insights intertwined with candid commentary, pulls back the curtain to spotlight the man behind this beloved feature content: Kent Kimes

Let’s get to know Kent in his own words, shall we? 

Question: When and why did you join PRSA Georgia?
Answer: I joined in 2015, shortly after landing my first PR job at the Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) following 20 years in journalism. Basically everyone in the department was a member, so I was urged to join too. I wish I had a better story than that, but I do remember being excited by the possibilities of membership when attending the PRSA International Conference in Atlanta in 2015. As a newbie to PR, I joined for networking and skill-building opportunities.

Q: What is your favorite Chapter memory or moment?
A: I’m going to be selfish here. Winning a 2017 Phoenix Award for the GWCCA’s 2016 annual report was a tremendous moment of satisfaction. It was the first report that I was in charge of and had virtually complete creative control over. I developed the theme, “Landmarks and Legacies,” and it was the first time our team won the Phoenix Award for the annual report rather than the Certificate of Excellence (still appreciative, of course). Receiving the hardware at the Awards Celebration that year felt like winning an Oscar.

Q: You write our Chapter Chat member profile series. What observations or insights have you had in that process?
A: I’m always intrigued by how members find their way to PR, and I’m generally in awe of each member’s accomplishments. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but I enjoy how each subject expresses his or herself so well, which makes putting together the Q&A feature relatively easy because we’re letting their words do the talking. I can usually spot what’s going to be the lead immediately.

Q: What’s your best writing tip or recommendation?
A: Inverted pyramid, baby!

Q: What’s your favorite AP Style rule?
A: I’m actually kind of bothered that so many of the rules that I held dear have changed recently. But one I see violated so much, especially in government publications, is the use of “citizens” when “residents” is the accurate term. I encourage you to look it up in the stylebook.

Q: What is the professional accomplishment you’re most proud of?
A: I’ve won awards in both journalism and public relations, but being able to transition from journalism to PR at the ripe age of 45 without a safety net stands out in my mind. It hasn’t been smooth, but I did it. And now, I want to continue on this course, learn as much as I can, develop more skills, support PRSA Georgia in any way I can, and help organizations value public relations as indispensable facets of their business.

Q: In a world of “alternative facts” and “fake news,” how do you keep it real as a PR professional?
A: Always look at and investigate the source, especially on social media.

Q: Where do you find creativity and inspiration?
A: I get most of my inspiration from pop culture, pop art, pop music, sports and urban hiking excursions. I rotate between reading business-oriented books, such as “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” by Patrick Lencioni, and classic literature. And I am usually my most creative after hours, late at night.

Q: What is your go-to coffee order?
A: I pound coffee daily until noon, but I really don’t have a go-to. As long as it has caffeine, I’m down with it.

Q: Where’s your “home office” these days and what’s your favorite aspect of living there?
A: I live just outside of Decatur in unincorporated DeKalb County. I call it “Decatur Lite” – all of the flavor, but lower taxes. You can see the city limits sign from my yard. During normal times, my favorite thing is being able to walk to, or take a quick bus ride to, nearby MARTA stations. I can survive without a car, which I really like because I’m so close to public transit and can walk to several nearby retail outlets. Oh, and the Whole Foods a couple of blocks from my house has a bar upstairs, featuring happy hour-priced craft draft beers and a free arcade – fun for the whole family.

Q: What is your favorite social media channel and how can someone connect with you?
A: Right now, I’m a LinkedIn junkie. You can connect with me here.