NZME defines its purpose to increase engagement

By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, USA


Technology has greatly improved the way we access information and has allowed a virtually unlimited supply of it. But with that glut of information has come a sense of overwhelm for many people, leading to increased disillusionment and disconnection.  

At New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME), the desire to meet readers’ needs to be informed, entertained, and encouraged to think went back to a simple premise: Define the company’s purpose and get the entire team on board. The internal programme was an immediate success and has continued gaining momentum since its launch more than a year ago.

NZME knew providing readers with timely, trustworthy, and easily accessed information would lead to better relationships with them. For that reason, it defined its company-wide purpose as “Keeping Kiwis in the Know.” Once its purpose was declared, leaders created a campaign to get the entire company on board, starting with backing of company management and board members.

NZME defined its company's purpose as Keeping Kiwis in the Know.
NZME defined its company's purpose as Keeping Kiwis in the Know.

The goal was to create a programme that would boost staff engagement and NZME brand pride and credibility.

“Having our senior leaders involved from the outset, giving them time to connect and understand our story and purpose, was the single biggest success of rollout,” explained Katie Mills, chief marketing officer for NZME. “Having a frontline of leaders who were ready to roll with us has been the clincher.”

Making sure every employee understood the vision was critical, so NZME knew it needed to do more than just create a new employee handbook or hold a company meeting. After getting buy-in from company leaders, the team developed a broad programme including research, campaign creation, onboarding materials, reward programmes, NZME social platforms, personal development programmes, and marketing materials. They also created a way to measure engagement and track the success of the programme.

Purpose meets knowledge

The campaign was presented to staff with elements that included video, booklets, a schedule of internal communication assets, leadership decks, and intranet content. The second stage involved a rollout of internal signage to offices across the country and a check-in with the senior leadership team several weeks into the project to gauge results.

Materials like this infographic served as internal reminders of the company's purpose.
Materials like this infographic served as internal reminders of the company's purpose.

NZME had set a goal of a 10% lift in employee understanding of the companys purpose, but instead saw a 35-point bump from 2018 to 2019. Company brand pride and credibility rose 7%.

“When we launched, the pickup and feedback across the business was fantastic, as we wanted to get this just right for all parts of our business," Mills said. “We had launched a purpose that truly reflects what we do as a business and ultimately required no explaining.”

Since implementing the programme more than a year ago, Mills said she has seen it resonate with employees across the board and become integrated into their vernacular.

“Our purpose hit a sweet spot with our people, and we have maintained momentum in a year where knowledge and truth has perhaps never been more valued.”

Putting purpose to the test

The COVID-19 pandemic provided challenges for all newsrooms, but Mills said it also created an opportunity to“amplify the messaging around our purpose.”

As the company went into various phases of lockdown, audiences were looking for the most accurate, up-to-date information they could find.

“This need, and the role of news media being designated an essential service by the New Zealand government, meant our purpose of Keeping Kiwis in the Know was authentically brought to life,” she said. That messaging became ubiquitous in all communications, both internal and client-facing.

“It fits perfectly with our primary mission and remains through the COVID crisis: to be the source of news and information that New Zealanders can trust.”

About Paula Felps

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