Northland, New Zealand

One Year in Business: Happy Birthday, KiwiWords

Why is communications company KiwiWords celebrating one year in business?

by Michael Botur
On the auspicious date of April 1 2018 I set out to deliver writing services hundreds of businesses in Auckland, Northland and beyond. If you’re reading this, our conversation probably went well and we created some beautiful words together. You were probably one of those polite people who didn’t have the heart to tell me I should rebrand as KiwiWords ’cause “Michaelboturwritingservices” was a mouthful (If anybody wants 300 redundant business cards, let me know… .)

I had 5-6 organisations I’d been writing for for three years but I wanted to find businesses to write for which are:

  • Progressive and ethical
  • Digitally savvy – less paper, less print
  • Useful – no pointless sales of things people don’t need
  • Doing interesting, stimulating work
  • Forward-focused, with a startup mentality

Also, I wanted my accountant to be overwhelmed with my annoying questions about Xero. Y’know, just to keep her on her toes. 

Twas an interesting year for communications and content

2018 was the year of…

  • Print newspapers in Northland shutting down and long-serving journalists made redundant (not cool!! Journalists should be valued!!)
  • More businesses using digital tactics and tools – for example the rise of CMS tools, Facebook vids, as well as “sponsored content” invading everything from The Spinoff to North & South
  • Office hubs for the Laptop Tribe beginning to thrive up north (BizSpace, The Orchard, Workspace)
  • Mainstream new organisations weirdly sharing content (Radio NZ and Stuff and MSN all share content; Stuff will now quote the Herald, whereas in 2014 I remember getting told off for using a Stuff story to check a fact)
  • Paywalls going up and coming down at a couple of interesting online news sites such as Unfiltered.tv
  • A couple of Northland copywriting companies going out of business or bankrupt (yikes!)
Good stuff which went well over the past year: 
  • I got a looooot of media releases completed for clients. Some were pretty darn successful and brought a lot of attention to the client.
  • I learned a few new tools in order to help clients publish words – Squarespace; Sprout; Scrivener; Neighbourly
  • I was privileged to have a very small role in spreading positive, socially beneficial messages by writing for Christchurch fundraisers, Habitat For Humanity and several Northland arts and literature causes
  • It was a privilege to help raise awareness of award winners such as painter Jessie Rose, startup successes at the ecentre business incubator, and construction company Trigg which is building the Hundertwasser Arts Centre – set to revolutionise tourism in Whangarei
  • Helped a few authors create publicity collateral around their books
  • Presented a stage panel at a literary festival in Rotorua
  • I put on creative writing workshops, taught night classes, published journalism in North & South, Noted.co.nz and The Spinoff, published a couple of books, got prize money from a couple of writing competitions
Sucky things which we can now laugh about, sort of:
  • When asking one client if she liked the words I’d carefully crafted for her, she responded “Well, it showed me which words I don’t want to use… .”
  • My home office got burgled in December, with all electronics taken. I had an urgent photography job on the next day. I managed to borrow an inferior camera from a friend, so yay.
  • Had a pull-up banner printed one day too late for a literary festival, so I didn’t need the banner but had still paid for it. The burglars mistook the black banner case for a banner and stole the whole thing. 
  • I got locked out of my professional email when I ceased letting Wix host my website and G-suite
  • I talked a rather eccentric customer out of launching a huge petition in support of a family of earthquake victims without the family’s support. The customer was not happy!
Farewell, communications comrades:
  • Property Plus magazine has finished business after 500 editions. I was extremely privileged to write a weekly column in it across three years. 
  • Creative Junction (aka Northlanders) has finished. Too bad- it was pretty innovative, offering a flippable online magazine, videos, social media and web content boosting local businesses
  • Northland’s Stuff community papers shut down at the end of 2018, so goodbye to Bay Chronicle, Whangarei Leader and Northern News. 
  • Vice NZ – goneburgers
  • The Wireless – also gone.  

    BONUS BUZZWORDS:  your guide to hipster communications slang
    This year I’m privileged to be helping future focused businesses with communications including a conference provider, a property management company, the startup business incubator ecentre at Massey University and a cybersecurity software maker. 

    I’m encountering a lot of startup parlance and slang as I go about my business. Here are some of the essentials so you can keep up at the meeting table:

    ‘We drank the Kool-Aid.’ 
    MEANING – We subscribe wholeheartedly to the idea

    ‘My business is a unicorn.’
    MEANING – A unicorn is a business which, through a unique idea, grows exponentially to become market leader in its field

    Ninja / Guru / Rockstar
    MEANING – These all mean a person is skilled at their job. Startup youngsters love to carelessly toss around these words interchangeably. 

    Serial entrepreneur
    MEANING – Occasionally used derisively, a serial entrepreneur will come up with an idea and get things started, but then hand responsibility on and go and found another 

    Founder
    MEANING – People are dropping ‘founder’ a lot, and frequently choosing it instead of CEO, director etc. 
    .
    ‘Pulling a Brexit.’
    MEANING – A loud, drawn-out angsty goodbye that interrupts the meeting.

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