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What's the story? Building reputation through stories is linked to export growth

26 Sep 2018
By Rebecca Smith
NZ Story St Kevins

Government, exporters and innovators will come together today at GoGlobal to discuss how New Zealand businesses will tackle change, innovation and marketing strategies – to support our expansion into new markets.

So much can be achieved for New Zealand through collaboration. In fact, that’s why New Zealand Story Group exists. We want to make New Zealand known for more good things. 

Ahead of GoGlobal, it’s crucial to discuss the growing significance of country reputation and the influence it has on a country’s economic performance and wellbeing.

Why is country reputation important? The RepTrak Report found a one-point increase in country reputation results translated to a 0.9% increase in the proportion of tourists per capita;  and a one-point increase in country reputation results translated to a 0.3% increase in export rates.

The results are good news for New Zealand. The recently released 2018 RepTrak Report ranked New Zealand number five of 55 countries on the Country Reputation Index, with 79.7 points.

The report notes the size doesn’t matter – none of the top 10 most reputable countries are the most populist and only two are the largest by geography. New Zealand has no excuse when it comes to topping the reputation scorecard!


According to RepTrak, developing a consistent country narrative and cultural back story is key. RepTrak say the countries that communicate a unique story through integrated communications channels earn a strong score on aspects of media and social network attributes. By contrast, average countries are weak on the merits media and social network attributes and over 60% of respondents are on the fence if they have seen any positive communication regarding the country.

And it really works. Forbes magazine says the top 5 countries are all linked through storytelling.

Which is where New Zealand Story Group comes in. Recently Prime Minster Jacinda Ardern helped us launch an initiative to encourage Kiwis to join the movement to become a #nzstoryteller. New Zealand’s Inside Stories enable New Zealand businesses and government agencies to leverage the positive value of being from New Zealand and gain a stronger voice and competitive advantage in international markets.

New Zealand Story interviewed expats and everyday Kiwis uncovering their own authentic perspectives on New Zealand’s unique contribution to the world, along with stories about our food and wine, culture and invention, technology, business, kaitiakitanga and creativity.

New Zealand’s Inside Stories are for all Kiwis to use and share, especially those who are responsible for putting New Zealand on the world stage – such as GoGlobal participants. 

We’re not talking about creating a tagline or a logo. We do this by creating and sharing stories that demonstrate the values that make us the nation we are: integrity, ingenuity and kaitiaki - goes to the heart of who have been and who we are, over generations.

And we mustn’t forget about leveraging and building on how we’re already perceived. Oliver Freedman, Managing Director, Reputation Institute Australia and New Zealand notes New Zealand was perceived most positively on attributes that make up the Appealing Environment dimension.

“New Zealand scored in the excellent range for this category on attributes including, ‘Is a beautiful country’, ‘Is an enjoyable country’, ‘Offers an appealing lifestyle’ and ‘The people of the country are friendly and welcoming’. New Zealand was also rated in the excellent range for ‘Is a safe place’.

“By employing appropriate and relevant storytelling techniques, these strong rankings can be used as leverage for New Zealand to effectively improve in other categories where it is perceived less strongly, such as being ‘an important contributor to global culture’, ‘technologically advanced’ and ‘has many well-known brands’.”

Overall, the New Zealand Story programme is strongly aligned with this Government’s ambition to create a productive, sustainable, and inclusive nation. With an emphasis on integrity, ingenuity and kaitiaki, the programme tells a story of New Zealand that is aspirational – yet also true.

But we need your help. Our ambition is to create a nation of storytellers so that over time New Zealand becomes known for more than the sum of its parts.

Together, we can build our country’s global reputation and grow opportunities for all New Zealanders by sharing our stories and each becoming a #nzstoryteller.