Tally-ho says Munro

After a six-year stint heading the Newspaper Advertising Bureau, general manager Robert Munro is set to depart in December. 

“Our newspaper industry organisation is a smaller entity since the closure of the NZPA and you just don’t need both an NPA chief executive [ex Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst]and an NAB general manager,” he says. “My role goes but we’ll add a business/marketing manager job into the mix.”

Having worked for McCann Erickson Worldgroup, Munro had an agency background and “didn’t have any Fairfax or APN baggage”. And one of his most successful initiatives was the creation of the NAB Newspaper Ad of the Year, along with Lexie Ribot. While many awards offer media space or other sizable prizes, he says it is still the biggest cash prize in Australasia (some might see the irony in that given the parlous financial situations of some of the large publishers).

Another highlight of his tenure was working with Special Group and Tony Bradbourne. The NAB was its foundation client and it won a bronze Axis award for its first ad.

Of course, things have changed significantly in the newspaper industry in the past six years. Digital dimes are yet to replace analog dollars and while newspapers are still the top advertising channel in New Zealand, that could change in the next 12 months, he says. Still, “there’s a lot of chaff about the demise of print”. Newspapers are still very big business and, with no national daily, very important to their communities; online newspapers are growing; and there have been some big stepchanges in the industry of late, with an increasing focus on video content (the rumour is Fairfax TV is set to arrive in New Zealand soon) and newspapers selling content to other broadcasters and websites.

“I’ve enjoyed the job. It’s been political at times, which is understandable when you serve many masters, but that’s something I’ve mastered,” he says.

As for his future plans, he’s leaving without a job to go to, “as they say in the UK trade press”.

“But somehow I expect I’ll be busier than ever, he says. “Our West Highland Terrier Dougal is looking forward to more walks.”


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