Executive shuffle: NZME announces two senior appointments; Fraser leaves MediaWorks—UPDATED

This week has seen an executive shuffle at two of the nation’s major media players.

Following on from reports that MediaWorks group head of revenue Liz Fraser had resigned from her post to take up a new position at Air New Zealand, NZME has today announced the appointment of Laura Maxwell as its group head of revenue.

While Fraser’s decision to leave MediaWorks is said to have come as a surprise to the executives at MediaWorks, the changes at NZME were introduced as part of a strategic move.   

“Laura moves into this role from her current position of group digital director,” says NZME chief executive Jane Hastings. “Laura will be responsible for all revenue across the group via advertising products. Direct reports will include direct, agency and national direct sales. In addition, Experiential will also report to Laura to ensure these new areas are weaved into our sales teams as we evolve our capabilities.”

In addition to this, NZME has also announced the appointment of commercial director Sandra King to the role of general manger of market solutions. 

“She will be reporting to Laura Maxwell,” says Hastings. “This is a critical area of our business which is focused on how we commercialise our specialist content including business, sport, entertainment, food and lifestyle across all platforms. Sandra will be responsible for growth in these categories working to identify new business opportunities.”

These two appointments come shortly after the release of APN’s financial results, which showed that NZME had contributed AU$203.7 million revenue and a net profit of AU$30.7 million to the business over the last year. 

And while the results were flat across all categories, they did show that the media company has successfully managed to almost double the contribution of the ‘other’ category (which includes events and experiential activities among others) from AU$4.5 million to $8.9 million.

In an official statement accompanying the news of the two appointments, Hastings said NZME is focused on growing digital revenues while retaining core revenues.  

“We are about selling audiences – leveraging the power of the many channels that we can connect with these audiences and delivering results for our clients,” Hastings said.  “To drive this strategy into the next phase, some changes have been made to the commercial leadership team.”

This forms part of NZME’s overall strategy to bring the disparate arms of the business closer together. 

“As we merge three great businesses into one integrated media and entertainment business, we are ensuring that we have the people in place to commercialise the audience numbers that our news, sport and entertainment content is attracting,” says Hastings.

Maxwell has until now been integral in terms of opening up new opportunities for sales teams to sell across the group.   

“Whilst we will retain product and channel specialists, we are also capitalising on the opportunity for our sales teams to sell across all of our channels,” Maxwell said. 

She previously spoke at length to StopPress about the process and challenges involved with integrating the sales teams across the business, and pinpointed Whangarei as a good example of that evolution because, unlike Auckland and most other markets, the teams are now all in the same building.   

“They’ve got a new lease on life,” she said at the time. “They can sell radio brands, The Advocate, digital and GrabOne. And that allows them to have a much deeper discussion with clients.” 

These changes are effective from 1 September 2015, and they are likely to accelerate NZME’s strategic approach over the next few months.

Update: An NZME spokesperson has responded to a few questions StopPress sent through yesterday afternoon.  

StopPress: Has the commercial director role been disbanded? If not, who has taken over this position? 

NZME: Yes, the position of group commercial director has been disbanded.

StopPress: What does this mean for the digital team? Will someone be stepping into Laura’s role? 

NZME: We will not be replacing the group digital director role. The digital sales and ad operations people will be reporting to Laura in her new role and the digital product teams will be reporting into the content leads.
StopPress: We’ve also heard that there has been a broader shuffle of the marketing team. What does this involve? 

NZME: Recently, we made some changes to our marketing team to reflect the integration of our three businesses into NZME. The marketing team now has a functional focus with teams working across all of our brands. The teams, reporting to group marketing director Liza McNally, include brand and communications, trade Marketing, partnerships, internal communications, PR and creative.

StopPress: Why has NZME decided to initiate these changes at this stage? 

NZME: Since becoming NZME almost a year ago we have been making steady progress to integrate our three businesses. This is not a change that can be made overnight but one that requires careful planning to ensure that we continue to produce the best news, sport and entertainment content, grow our audiences and commercialise the audiences our content attract.


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