Poacher turned gamekeeper, turned poacher.


Since leaving Edelman, I have been very lucky to be working with an amazingly talented group at The Spinoff as an Advisory Board Member.

The Spinoff was launched in 2014 and is New Zealand’s fastest growing online media brand producing content that’s smart, funny and provocative.

It’s enjoyed by an audience of over 700,000 New Zealanders monthly (according to Google). Socially, it’s daily organic reach is over 100,000 people. These are big numbers for New Zealand in case you wondered!

It fills a huge gap in the market here for locally produced, quality and often long-form journalism.

Duncan Greive, the founder and publisher, has a beady-eyed vision for what his audience of (mainly but not only) 18-34 year old readers want and, though he would probably not be so ‘high falutin’, he articulates a sense that now more than ever, ‘democracy needs quality journalism’ and a fresh untainted voice.

My role is general business and marketing advice and occasional cheerleading.

It has been refreshing and eye-opening to be back on the other side of the news business again even if from the boardroom rather than the newsroom. The PR agency world has many qualities that we often under-value, but even this little organisation does some things better than the biggest PR firms I have worked for.

For example, audience understanding and appreciation is built into pretty much every conversation at The Spinoff. The journalists and marketing team (the latter led by brand evangelist Kerryanne Nelson)  care hugely about what interests and concerns their readers. It’s personal. In agencies we rely on planners, client input, ‘dead data’ and inspired guesswork and you can really tell the difference. I am not dissing agencies, because they do some things very much better (not least the management stuff) and their role is different, but any agency that can take a bit of this magazine media style audience smarts to their business model will do very well.

And analytics is a different discipline if your monthly income and ability to attract clients is tied to it. These guys watch data in real-time on stories they have just published and then learn from that and tailor and re-make content accordingly and outside of a few agency teams that remains a rare skill.

Don’t get me wrong. PR ain’t dead. And agencies remain as relevant to clients as they ever were. But the skill-sets they keep on changing and new media companies are not bad places to watch for some of them.

David Brain

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