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This month I've Been Thinking… about how proud I am that we have now produced 50 issues of this fine magazine.
It seems a long time ago that I got together with Peter White of the Takapuna Beach Business Association to talk about the possibility of establishing a magazine for the area. The mutual desire was a magazine that could focus on celebrating all the good things happening in the area.
Peter just happened to strike me at the right time. Having worked and been involved in Shore activities for over two decades, I too shared a desire to establish a publication that could add value to our very special part of the world. I had grown tired of traditional media continuing to highlight all the negative things. Many in the business community shared my frustration.
A driving force behind establishing this magazine was also to play a part in encouraging locals to spend their hard-earned dollars locally. This was on the back of a survey that showed that only 6-7% of local incomes were actually spent locally. What is pleasing is from that initial support from Peter White and the TBBA we now have the support of virtually all the other local business associations who appreciate our stoic backing for local business and enterprise. This support extends to knocking back advertising from any entities outside of the North Shore area that compete with local businesses – something we do regularly. That's because one of our prime roles is fostering local business. A couple of years ago we ran a promotion that gave away a vehicle valued at $25,000, encouraging locals to buy local.
So the magazine was conceived early in 2010 and by July that year we produced our first issue. Around 60 pages, ironically featuring the artists impression of the National Ocean Water Sports Centre (NOWSC) that back then was to be built on Gould Reserve by the Takapuna Boating Club. This was a project that I personally was keen to see come to fruition for Takapuna Beach. Still are.
When we first talked about launching the magazine there were detractors. Many had tried and failed and by some this was seen as just another attempt. It is a thrill therefore, that 50 issues on it continues to go from strength to strength. After that initial 60 page effort the magazine grew as it gained credibility – issue by issue – to be over 100 pages. And for the most of the past three years (33 issues) it has never dropped below 120 pages. In fact it has been up to 200 pages in size on a couple of occasions.
The neat thing is that many of the advertisers that we twisted the arms of for those early issues have remained advertisers right through the 50 issues. These include Colliers who have been on every inside front cover since the start. Bayleys and Victoria Bidwell who have been on every back cover since the start. Other stalwart contributors who have been in most issues have been Takapuna Beach Business Association, The Poynton, North Harbour Club, QPC Builders, Les Mills, Devonport Chocolates, Shore City, Fifth Avenvue Diamond Jewellers, Pilates Unlimited, Dog HQ, Home Fabrics, Smales Farm, Milford Business Association, Visique Milford, Crafty Knitwits, The Booklover, Pinot Plus, Milford Centre, Fullers, Face It Clnic, JustWorkout, Navy Museum, John Appleton, Carfe, North Shore YMCA, Lake House Arts, North Art, The PumpHouse, Kristin School, Takapuna Grammar, Pinehurst School, Westlake Boys, Westlake Girls, Rosmini College, Bellingham Wallace Accountancy, Schnauer & Co., Nadja Court Barfoot & Thompson, Andrew Dorreen Precision Real Estate and Rose Arnott/Rosie Houghton Prestige Real Estate.
The favourite columnist of our readers is Simon Gundry. While not every one agrees totally with what he has to say his contribution is always lively and thought-provoking. He has only missed one of the 50 issues, earlier this year when he was on a boat somewhere in the Atlantic. We had several enquiries worried that he had gone for good. Our readers also enjoy the contributions from historian David Verran.
The real pleasing aspect of the magazine is it has never really been a hard sell to advertisers. Our success has really been a snowball affect. And I do believe we have really established a magazine that locals love reading. And it is free! There is not too much of quality in this world that comes free – mostly delivered close to your doorstep – every month of the year, except when you are on holiday in January.
I personally love writing about our variety of businesses on the North Shore. Having been in business myself for over 26 years I know how tough this gig of private enterprise is. So writing about those who have taken up the challenge and in most circumstances are succeeding is very enjoyable for me. Yes I know sometimes our writing is commercial, but I firmly believe we make that commercial copy pretty interesting and the general public does enjoy reading about interesting and successful enterprises.
A focus in Channel is also the not-for-profit community organisations. I reckon they deserve lots of support. In most cases they are being run or administered by tireless people who work for nothing – or very little – but are hugely passionate about what they do. I am talking about those in the arts, sports and the like. Making their promotional dollars stretch as far as they can is something that I get a thrill out of.
Another popular aspect of the magazine is our "people" focus. Right from the start we decided that Channel would be a people magazine. For that reason our 'Out and About' pages were a priority. And readers love them. We also have some great Q&A features on local people – they are in abundance on the North Shore. We extend this to a policy of having photos of people as a preference to photos of buildings etc. Or, if we have a photo of a building we are more inclined to have a person in the photo. It just makes the mag more interesting.
Channel has also become a vehicle for information and advice on a whole range of things. Health, wellbeing, fitness, beauty, events, eating out, cafes, homes, history, what's hot, wardrobes, local government, motivation, property management, the environment, skin care, the arts, sport, motoring, vehicles, chocolates, fashion, community news, law, politics, pets, furnishings, optometry and eyewear, dental work, crafts and knitting, antiques, books, adventure, car care, education, accountancy, investments, retirement living, business success, real estate and more. Phew - the content is certainly immense!
For our first issue we printed and distributed around 17,000 copies. Over the 50 issue period this has grown to a print run of 25,000. Every copy goes every month, with just under 20,000 distributed to homes and the balance through businesses, cafes and the like and a big number consumed via the many dispensing bins we have around the Shore.
The magazine has always been supported by a strong website. We recently relaunched this website to appeal to those who like to consume their information online. We also want Channel to become something that those who take an interest in the Shore but are based elsewhere want to read. They can do that on a good website.
So enjoy the read in this, our 50th issue. Lets hope we can still be bragging about the magazine in another four or more years when we publish our 100th issue!