Stuff Group wins global award

Almost four years since its management buyout from Australian owners, New Zealand’s Stuff Group has been awarded a global prize for business transformation at the International News Media Association (INMA) awards in London today.

In an entry to INMA’s Best Innovation in Newsroom Transformation category titled “Consciously Uncoupling”, the separation of Stuff Ltd in 2023 into distinct businesses beat entries from major media groups including the UK’s The Times and Sunday Times and the Irish Independent.

Separating Stuff’s large teams of multimedia journalists into two separate businesses: Stuff Digital for its scale audiences on stuff.co.nz, Neighbourly and audio and Stuff Masthead Publishing with subscriber-led masthead digital, newspaper and magazine products, was described as “counterintuitive” but created two self-funded, standalone businesses with distinct strategies and business models.

“Key to this strategy is differentiated revenue models, through monetisation of scale audiences in Stuff Digital – including New Zealand’s largest digital news audience on stuff.co.nz – and through consumer revenue propositions including launching digital subscriptions for our heritage masthead brands The Post, The Press and The Waikato Times,” says Stuff Group Owner and Publisher Sinead Boucher.

“Under CEO Laura Maxwell, each business has its own Managing Director, dedicated teams and a singular focus on their unique audiences and customers.

“These better serve our commercial partners and audiences on both a national and local level and has equipped the leaders – Nadia Tolich in Stuff Digital and Joanna Norris in Masthead Publishing – with ensuring their businesses are innovative and profitable.”

Maxwell, who led strategic development first as Chief Growth Officer before moving into the CEO role under the new structure, says the uncoupling has freed each business to drive its own growth and profitability.

“Stuff Digital is our live and lively arm – unencumbered by legacy and able to quickly launch new products to market including in the past year, vertical video, scaling our unique Sentiment Tracker tool and growing digital audio products,” Maxwell says.

“By contrast, Stuff Masthead Publishing makes legacy a virtue. With a 160 year history of trusted publishing, the masthead team drives digital and print subscription products, The Post, The Press, Sunday Star Times, and best-selling magazines and newspapers.

“Defined by delivering beautifully told New Zealand stories, the team is committed to subscribers, creating content and experiences which drive loyalty, increasing ARPU.”

The businesses are supported by a central commercial team within the Stuff Group.

Brand Connections, led by advertising leader Matt Headland, services both business models through commercial partnerships, marketing and sponsorships.

Over the past 12 months he has significantly increased data and digital talent within the business as new products were launched and a world-leading, agile and dynamic tech stack delivered.

Boucher says the global transformation award is particularly pleasing at a time when the industry is being told innovation will create the market conditions for media to thrive.

“We know that we have innovated constantly over the past decade – we went digital-first, first in New Zealand, we’ve launched new products, new business models and completely reshaped our business from the ground up.

“What we need now to create those market conditions is for the Government to create a level playing field through the Fair Digital News Bargaining Bill.”

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