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Five PR implications of Bauer Media closure

Five PR implications of Bauer Media closure

This morning (2 April) Bauer Media announced it is closing permanently

In news reports, staff said they never saw it coming.  I would imagine most of us in the PR industry didn’t either.

This is a huge blow for quality journalism in New Zealand.   Bauer Media published some of our most respected and iconic magazines including NZ Woman's Day, New Zealand Woman's Weekly, The Australian Women's Weekly, the Listener, North & South, Next, Metro, Kia Ora, Home NZ and Your Home & Garden.

While there’s barely been time to digest the news, my initial thoughts are that there are five key implications for brands as well as colleagues working in public relations.

Shrinkage of sources for credible, in-depth journalism

While the NZ Herald and Stuff continue to devote limited resource to feature stories, Bauer publications such as the Listener and North & South were publications trusted implicitly by the New Zealand public.  Therefore, they have been coveted places for brands to share their in-depth stories. 

Companies are going to have to work harder than ever before to tell their complex, thought-provoking news.  Partnering with New Zealand media to tell those stories will be more difficult with shrinking space dedicated to these sorts of features.

Flood of journalists into communications profession

Over the past decade, newsrooms around the country have continued laying off journalists.  This has resulted in more and more journalists entering the public relations profession. 

Some journalists make this leap into PR and are incredibly successful.  I’ve employed some of the best over the years.

However, for journalists to be successful in PR, it takes a special kind of person.  It requires the ability to take a step back from storytelling to understand the multifaceted discipline of corporate communications strategy, including how to assess risk and develop mitigation strategies.

Crossing the fence from journalism to PR requires a dedication to learning the PR profession and wider communications skills, while being humble enough to admit that working in the communications industry requires many more skills than just being a great writer.

Employing a journo fresh out of the media industry for a corporate communications job is a risky move for any organisation.

Companies must focus on content development like never before

At HMC, we’ve been telling clients for a long time that they need to take greater control of developing their own content.  Gone are the days of relying solely on media outlets to ‘deliver’ your stories to your audiences.

‘Owned’ content must be prioritised if your organisation is going to reach your audiences.  However, the implications of this is that companies must invest in resource to create that quality content.  Producing blogs, vlogs, podcasts, newsletters, in-house magazines and more will become increasingly important for successful brands.  But all of this takes a lot of time, effort and financial investment to create it consistently week by week.  Are companies ready for this investment?

Greater power to dynamic media trio

With a huge publishing house like Bauer Media now out of the game, Fairfax, MediaWorks and NZME become even more powerful than ever before.  The vast majority of our country’s media fall under these three banners.

In my opinion this media environment creates greater risk for the New Zealand public to be able to seek out alternate and diverse views on the news that’s important to our communities.

Opportunity to fill the void

Where there is a void, there is opportunity.

I predict as New Zealand climbs out of this COVID-19 crisis that other publications – old and new - will fill the void left by Bauer.  I think there is still appetite in New Zealand for the content that these publications served up.  The big question mark, however, is, “will brands put their advertising dollars back into magazines?”  The answer is yet to be seen.