Vodafone New Zealand has announced a news offering, dubbed Vodafone News, which will launch on its corporate site next week.
"It’s a realisation that people like doing business with the people and businesses they trust and respect," says head of communications Andrea Brady when asked about Vodafone's move to branch out into news.
For this reason, Vodafone News will be a portal for the company to share stories about what’s going on inside it, and Brady compares it to inviting someone into your home and giving them an opportunity to see how you tick.
She says the stories will give the public an understanding of the people who make up Vodafone, the innovative projects they’re working on and the way in which the company connects with its community.
“We looked at a number of ways we could deliver that and the most obvious is to redevelop our news website into a portal where that information could actually be shared in a news-style article, that people could read when they wanted to read them with video content and imagery, in a real stackable style of presentation.”
Until now, the portal has been a repository for media releases, but now readers will be able to delve deeper into what’s going on in Vodafone from its call centres, to training, customer service, company policies, innovation and technology.
There will be stories about Vodafone’s work within the greater context of New Zealand, with Brady giving the example of a piece covering its team’s response to natural disasters like the Kaikoura earthquake.
Pulling it all together is an in-house team consisting of four communications and journalism professionals. However, it will also be publishing work from freelancers and other contributors, including Vodafone staff from across the business who have interesting stories to tell.
Brady says by including their stories, Vodafone News will give staff a chance to share their successes that are otherwise missed.
The staff will also be the biggest advocates of the site, and their sharing of the stories on social media will be integral in getting word out about Vodafone News.
And while it’s presented on the Vodafone News portal, Brady says this is not about Vodafone being the news, but rather about complementing what it sends out in media releases.
“It’s about us working with the news media outlets as well,” she says.
“We will always provide media with unique, novel insight and we’ll take another angle for the website. It’s to complement media releases.”
Shine and 99—the latter of which recently launched a content offering called Newsroom—are filling the tubes of these websites by producing articles and content about the Spark Lab events series for readers to use as support and resources to their achieve business goals.
Spark business communications manager Sally Gordon says the websites are about helping digitise New Zealand businesses – both big and small.
“We want New Zealand businesses to grow, be more efficient and to flourish, here and globally.”
And outside of the telco space, ANZ, BNZ, RaboDirect and Westpac have all dipped their toes into publishing in an effort to educate customers about what the banks are up to as well as provide an advice and inspiration.
One of those offerings is ANZ’s BlueNotes, which since 2014 has been providing news stories directly relevant to the bank and the financial industry.
At the time of its launch, publisher Amanda Gome told AdNews that the project is in some ways a response to the exodus of business journalists, who have been forced out of the traditional publishing industry due to diminishing advertising revenue.
It’s also a reflection of the way traditional news media are no longer the owners of news, as digital has opened a space for anyone to be a publisher—something that Vodafone, Spark and various other players are trying to take advantage of.
As Brady says: “It’s an opportunity to ensure we continue to remain relevant to the changing word.”
But, as is the case for every news publisher, success in each of these instances will largely depend on the ability of the publications to consistently attract decent audience numbers.