Waipā District Council says a Buy Local campaign using its ratepayer funded communications department will focus on its own social media platforms.
Details of the campaign were unveiled at an unadvertised council workshop last week with Customer and Community Services group manager Sally Sheedy saying the council wanted to support the business community.
But Good Local Media has questioned the need for the council campaign saying it was an inappropriate use of ratepayer funding and its newspapers in Cambridge and Te Awamutu was already running Shop Local campaigns.
The council could “cherry pick” The News’ advertisers, impacting on the viability of regional media, said publisher David Mackenzie.
Sheedy said some of the stories its communications department would find might suit a more in-depth look which it would provide to the local media.
There would be no exclusive arrangements with any media organisation, she said.
The council would work with local businesses, Chambers of Commerce in Te Awamutu and Cambridge and local social service providers to create a “positive and uplifting campaign to show the diversity, innovation and sheer determination from our local business community to continue on throughout the effects of Covid-19.”
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce chief executive Kelly Bouzaid said it already had a shop local campaign under the Totally Locally Cambridge brand.
It was great to see council thinking “in this space” and “we 100% advocate for shop local – but I wonder if local government should be spending ratepayer money to promote individual businesses.”
Mackenzie said it was not the role of the Waipā communications department to write advertorials for commercial operations or compete with existing local companies, in this case Good Local Media.
“This campaign has the potential to have a negative impact on the one newspaper company committed to producing exclusive Waipā content at a time when it is facing massive price hikes in the costs of distribution and newsprint and has seen a downturn in advertising from the district council,” he said.