The past year has been tough for business in the Thames Valley, with the Covid-19 pandemic wreaking havoc for many businesses along with other challenges, such as one of the worst droughts in history.
So taking on a newspaper business a year ago probably wasn’t the greatest of timing for experienced journalist Teresa Ramsey.
Teresa took over the well-established Plains Profile newspaper in March, 2020, renaming it the Valley Profile and extending its circulation from the Hauraki Plains to also cover Paeroa, Thames and the Thames Coast. She was about to put the first issue together for print when the Level 4 shutdown was announced, putting a stop to any chance of delivery.
“That 4-week wait was horrendous, just the uncertainty,” she said.
“I had just resigned from a good national job and now I didn’t know if I was even going to be able to get this new venture off the ground. It was a massive risk and a stressful time.
“Fortunately, our advertisers remained loyal and extremely supportive of what I was trying to achieve – to get top quality local community news back into the Thames Valley region.”
The first issue of the Valley Profile was put together during the Level 4 shutdown and was delivered on the first Wednesday in May – in the middle of Level 3.
“This meant gloves and strict distancing rules for our newspaper delivery people, and also family and friends picking up more than half a dozen paper runs as many of our delivery people were vulnerable to the Covid-19 virus and couldn’t venture out.
“I was determined the first issue would get to every letterbox in the Thames Valley though.”
That first issue was just 16 pages but as support for local community news grew, so did requests for advertising, which meant the paper grew to as many as 36 pages in October before settling at a steady 24-28 pages.
“I’m so grateful to all our advertisers, they are what keeps this newspaper going and developing, giving us the opportunity to deliver that important local news to connect our local communities,” Teresa said.
“Without advertising, there is no paper.”
Support remained huge, and many offers to contribute from members of the community also flowed in, leading to a variety of top quality photos, reports and content to complement stories celebrating local champions, events and general news.
Before long, Teresa was able to employ full-time advertising manager Nikki Sanders then reporter Kelley Tantau. The pair, along with part-time graphic designer Geoff Sanders and a dedicated distribution team, were essential for the paper’s transition from monthly to fortnightly in December.
Now, thanks to the team’s hard work and massive ongoing support from advertisers, the Valley Profile is publishing weekly from May 5 – with 12,500 copies delivered to every letterbox in the Thames Valley every Wednesday, plus bulk distribution around the Coromandel Peninsula.
“It’s the perfect way to celebrate our first birthday,” Teresa said.
“We weren’t quite ready to make the leap to a weekly print but with two corporate rags breathing down our necks, we knew going weekly was necessary if we wanted to give the Profile and local news a chance.”
The Profile’s point of difference is that it’s locally owned and operated by people passionate about our region, she says.
“And we are ahead of the rest with two experienced journalists on the ground, which means we can cover our big events, sit in on council meetings, and uncover the truth about what’s happening in this district.
“Already, we are leading the way when it comes to local reporting and we’re also able to offer our businesses a voice with our extremely popular advertorials plus advertising and classifieds at reasonable rates in a paper that’s read from cover to cover.
“It also means we care if any of our paper routes can’t be delivered, we step in and do it ourselves – even during a pandemic, because our local community news must always get through.”