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RBNZ turns to social media to sell message

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/06/2017 Paul McBeth

The Reserve Bank, which has faced criticism for its engagement with the media and financial analysts, has turned to social media to sell its message.

This came after polling showed ordinary Kiwis don't hold the bank in high regard.

An external stakeholder engagement survey conducted by Ipsos New Zealand in 2014 found the 553 ordinary people surveyed had a much lower opinion of the central bank than the 356 stakeholders polled.

RBNZ head of communications Mike Hannah told an Institute of Directors audience in Christchurch on Monday that the gap between the two groups had a "significant influence" on how the central bank has interacted externally over the past two-and-a-half years.

Another survey will be held in the first half of next year.

Mr Hannah said the traditional news media has been "fundamentally challenged by the attraction of advertising revenue to the likes of giant web platforms such as Google and Yahoo!" he said, referring to the waning Yahoo! web portal that has been sold to Verizon.

Google and Facebook capture the lion's share of digital advertising in New Zealand.

Mr Hannah said the central bank had sought to engage with the public through social media channels including Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud.

The bank has also used "native advertising" - Mr Hannah cited a sponsored story and quiz on Fairfax New Zealand's Stuff website to promote its new bank notes.

"These digital channels are designed to offer explanations of our policy and activities in more accessible, less technical language than is required for formal policy or regulatory statements," he said.

Still, the central bank isn't yet ready for a robust two-way conversation through social media channels, saying it needed to avoid the risk of "our statements in an informal channel being read as public signals".

The Reserve Bank also has to be careful about the way it communicates with both the media and financial market participants, given it can influence financial prices, he said.

The Reserve Bank's communication has been questioned by economists and financial analysts.

The Reserve Bank's relationship with traditional media has taken a knock in the past year after it ended a long-standing policy of granting analysts and journalists access to policy documents and economic releases in an embargoed lock-up after a MediaWorks reporter broke the rules by secretly sending the details early to their newsroom.

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