Regional Rundown: how the Bay of Plenty is a region of innovation and local media

More than two million New Zealanders live outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and more are packing up for the regions each day.

A relaxing lifestyle, lower cost of living and strong sense of community are luring professionals from all fields, and strengthening the creative, collaborative and connected communities that cover our islands.

The Bay of Plenty has long been one of New Zealand’s fastest growing regions.

With Mount Maunganui and Tauranga offering some of the country’s most idyllic views, an appealing balance between city and surf, and a creative and buzzing business environment, the region is a hotspot for setting up shop.

Reuben Woods, who established WOODS Agency in Mount Maunganui in 2004, says although good positioning, work and awards have meant he’s always attracted talented staff, over the last two years it’s been easier than ever to find high-quality talent.

Although lifestyle is a big competitive advantage, he emphasises it’s not the primary reason people join the agency.

“To be the best you need the best people and we have, and always have had, great talent that work for us who are already here.”

The team has also recently added three new employees from Auckland who’ve come from big agencies, and have realised they can continue to pursue their careers from the Bay of Plenty.

Woods says there can be this perception coming from the big cities that regional businesses have added challenges because of location, but this is definitely not the case.

“If anything we can be more nimble, innovative and get to really work closely with a lot of the business owners first hand,” he says.

“And we a have a much better work/life balance while still being able to compete on a national and international scale.”

What’s unique about the Bay of Plenty is the collaboration, he says.

 “The Bay of Plenty is extremely innovative.

“We have over many years developed a really strong culture of innovation here and I really think this comes down to the way we all collaborate as businesses.”

He says there is a real sense of wanting to succeed and be successful in the regions, to be world-class and to create extremely profitable businesses.

With a nationwide audience, the team at WOODS use whatever channels best reach their audience – be it TV, print, radio, outdoor, digital or experiential. Woods says there is still a place for all types of media and at the end of the day the team uses whatever is best to connect with people.

“I feel because we are regional we are much more in tune with real Kiwis who we are selling to the majority of the time.

“We are at the coal face of the New Zealand consumer and for a lot of the brands we are dealing with, being truly amongst this audience really helps.”

He says without truly understanding your customer you are shooting from the hip and potentially wasting a lot of your clients’ money.

“We really get to understand what the New Zealand customer wants and needs without having to spend thousands on research.”

Woods says the team has great relationships with local, as well as national media, so they can be creative with how they integrate those channels into campaigns.

In the central region of the North Island residents are 18 percent more likely than the rest of the population to read six or more issues of a newspaper in a week – with 22 percent of residents doing just that, according to Nielsen data.

In the Bay of Plenty, print audiences have remained close to static, a trend not seen in many other regions across the country, and radio and digital audiences are growing.

NZME Bay of Plenty general manager Greg Murphy says they often experience 100 percent sell- out of inventory due to demand and the digital audiences have grown to a point that hyper-local geographic targeting is now possible, something that wouldn’t have been available two or three years ago.

For example, if you wanted to target just Katikati in the past the only way to be truly hyper-local would be to use the Katikati Advertiser. Now it’s possible to deliver 50,000 digital impressions via The NZ Herald and BOP Times websites within a week and you are guaranteed to reach the audience.

“The local audience is key to our very existence, and in many cases our regional audience is also the provider of the content we produce across news, sport and entertainment.”

He says what is noticeably different in the Bay of Plenty it how the audience have a deep personal connection to the media they consume, and they often consume traditional media on a more frequent weekly basis.

“It’s common to hear people refer to their newspaper as “our paper” and many of our audience can be fiercely defensive of what they regard as “their publication”.

“We still see very high engagement and receive a lot of feedback with local print mastheads.”

He says the audience is also very focused on their local media producing local and highly engaging content. 

“National news and content is easily sourced, but true hyper-local news, sport and entertainment is becoming the key differentiator and audience engagement tool for all local media.”

“In the commercial environment the evidence of this is seen through the volume and sell-out rates we now see with sponsored content.”

NZME’s core channels are radio, digital and print and the regional team produces local news, sport and entertainment content daily across all three.

In the Bay of Plenty local staff live and work in the community and connect with the audiences on a daily basis, and many are well-known in their local community and the wider region which has created real audience engagement, Murphy says.

“What differs in the Bay of Plenty is that our media channels are seen as true local and some as hyper-local to the audience, which creates high engagement and ownership for the audiences.”

Although the growth of digital, video and social has been dramatic, one of the differences Murphy sees in the region compared to Auckland is far less people who have totally converted to digital and social channels for their media consumption.

“We often talk about how our audiences consume media in the Bay of Plenty via multiple mediums across the day and week, and for a marketer multi-platform media is crucial to reach our audience.”

This is especially true as there has been dramatic audience growth in the 25-44 age group, as well as retaining one of the strongest and financially active over-50 audiences in the country, Murphy says.

And as the fastest growing region outside of Auckland, with one of the strongest growing property markets and dramatic growth in retail, media, marketers and creatives in the Bay of Plenty will have plenty of work to do – and they’re well equipped to do it.

The Regional Rundown series will explore the Waikato, Bay of Plenty, Hawke’s Bay/Wairarapa, Nelson/Marlborough, and Otago regions. To read the profiles, click here.

This story is part of a content partnership with News Works.

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