The phrase ‘print is dead’ has become ubiquitous in the industry, but there is still an argument to be made for region- and industry-specific publications that target certain groups of people. And in the last few months, four new titles have appeared on the market, and the teams working on these projects are optimistic about the future of print in New Zealand.
Trade-a-Boat, The Complete Book of Boats
Bauer Media Group announced that it would release a new pair of Trade-a-Boat magazines geared at the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Bauer says, “Jeff Strang, currently editor of Bauer’s market-leading Trade-a-Boat magazine in Australia and former editor of its New Zealand sister title, will head a proven editorial team.”
According to Strang, “Every issue will be packed with more than 180 pages of editorial, including 80 pages of boat tests plus features and pre-loved boats.” This will amount to approximately 300 pages for the Kiwi and 400 for the Australian magazine.
Filling so many pages on monthly basis will be a huge challenge, but Strang is confident that his team will be able to do it.
“We have a dedicated team on the ground in New Zealand producing quality, local material. We will supplement this with stuff written and shot by our leading Australian team and our contributors around the world, where and when it applies to NZ. We also regularly unite trans-Tasman talent to work on destination/product focused material like Kiwi King, which is specifically tailored to promote New Zealand destinations and New Zealand boats in the land of Oz,” he says.
The recent Nielsen results showed that special-interest magazine titles were still showing strong year-on-year growth, and that niche titles were bucking the downward trend of print. One of the biggest winners in the recent Nielsen breakdown was Fairfax-owned Boating NZ, which saw readership grow from 131,000 to 158,000 in the space of a year.
While Strang admits that the Nielsen statistics consolidated their in-house analysis, he says they were not the determining factor when it came to releasing the new titles.
“As a company we research regularly – my boss has a research background as it happens – and everything we see and hear reinforces the views the Nielsen Poll demonstrates,” he says.
When asked about the future of print, Strang points out that the offering will not be restricted to the magazine.
“Close to a third of our core content includes high quality video and almost all our material enjoys a long shelf life via multimedia integration in our websites, EDMs and tablet-based products,” he explains.
Strang also has an optimistic outlook about the longevity of print when he says, “Readers spend more time absorbed in single stories in the print format than any other form of media – the engagement is high. We already know engagement drives action, be it a purchase, a holiday or even just further research – all great outcomes from print.”
The print party has also spread down to Southland, where the release of The Life has given readers a culture and lifestyle magazine that doesn’t pander to the north.
Andie Gentle, editor of The Life, explains the need for a Southland-centric magazine by saying, “Southland is well recognised nationally and internationally for its scenery, seafood, large industries and farming. We recognised a gap in the market for a great showcase of our people, lifestyle and culture. We may be a scarcely populated region, but we believe the lifestyle here is second to none.”
The first edition of the magazine featured a broad range of stories across spectrums, and Gentle says this one of the strengths of the publications. “It sounds cliché, but there really is something for everyone, from business, technology and science, to food, beauty and fashion,” she says.
To ensure that the magazine maintains its distinct Southland flavour, Gentle says that they have assembled a tight team of locals to work on the project. It’s definitely Southland made,” she says.
While Gentle exudes a sense of optimism about the project, she also concedes that, “It’s never easy selling advertising for a new product.” But she continues by alluding to the track record of Market South, saying, “[The company] has developed local promotional publications for more than ten years now (visitor guides and maps etc), so that, combined with our client-based marketing reputation has really helped.”
The initial teething problems that come with attracting advertising have however not dampened Gentle’s spirits regarding the future of the magazine and the print industry in general. “Despite ever-changing technology, magazines will continue to engage with people for many years to come. They offer a tangible piece of luxury, leisure and relaxation, and that can be hard to find these days,” she says.
Despite what all the doomsday prophets say about the future of print, October’s Nielsen statistics showed positive results for regional papers. Jenny Stiles, the executive director of News Works, explained that these publications have maintained readership because they offer local content that cannot be attained online.
The Hobson is a magazine that is attempting to tap into this hunger for local stories by providing content that speaks directly to the people living in the inner-eastern suburbs of Auckland, just as Ponsonby News does closer to town. The magazine, which has just released its third issue, provides content on the news and events relevant specifically to the neighbourhoods between Mt Hobson and the sea.
Kirsty Cameron, the editor at The Hobson and ex APN NZ, explains that the magazine was started because Parnell and Remuera didn’t have a publication that appealed specifically to the communities in those areas.
“I live in Parnell, and I waited for someone else to release a magazine in the community. Well, it didn’t happen. And then when I left my day job, I decided to do it,” says Cameron.
She explains that while New Zealanders may have become very global in recent years, people still ask, “How is this relevant to me?” and “How does this affect my community?” She goes on to say that The Hobson attempts to make the news personal by addressing these questions head-on and giving people content they can relate to.
The latest issue is all about celebrating local talent. An interview with photographer Marti Friedlander explores her motivations and inspirations. Reviews give a nod to the culinary gems located in the area. And an editorial piece delves into the rich local heritage that mainstream media has thus far overlooked.
Cameron says that most of the content is provided by freelancers, a collection of well-respected columnists and final-year journalism majors at AUT, but that she hopes to be able to employ journalists on a full-time basis in the near future.
Thus far, the magazine has enjoyed a successful start. Cameron says that ad revenue has grown with every issue, and that 70 percent of the companies advertising in the magazine are on long-term contracts.
According to its website, The Hobson reaches 9,600 letterboxes from Parnell to Remuera, and there are various collection points for those who do not receive a copy.
The first edition of At Sea was inserted into the Herald earlier this week, and it aims to keep the public up to date with the ongoing development of the Seafarers Building.
The newspaper forms part of broader digital campaign that Shine has put together to promote the changes that are taking place.
“It’s about announcing the Seafarers Building to the public and encouraging people to come down and enjoy it,” says Shine’s managing director Simon Curran, who, along with creative director Lucien Law, also has restaurant and property interests in the area through the Pondarosa Group.
In addition to introducing the new stores and restaurants to the public, At Sea also offers editorial content that acknowledges the heritage of the building. In the first edition, there is a three-page article on the life of Tommy Doyley, a sailor who lived in the building in 1974 when it was still called the Sailors’ Home.
By collaborating with APN and the Herald, Shine has managed to tap into the resource of print to reach an even broader audience than would be possible with a strictly digital campaign. The use of the Herald also enables Shine to engage directly with the target market, which largely consists of older consumers with a little more disposable income lying around.