Media Training NZ Blog

Baptist Churches miss big opportunity

11 December 2014
Baptist Churches of New Zealand missed a huge opportunity this week to distance themselves from Pastor Logan Robertson’s comments about gays, and promote themselves at the same time. You will remember Robertson’s derogatory comments earlier this week, suggesting gay people commit suicide. He is Pastor of the Westcity Bible Baptist Church. Robertson is not a member of Baptist Churches of New Zealand, but this was only found out when a few media organisations contacted the group to find out. Only people...

Test yet to come for Andrew Little

3 December 2014
He has done a great job in his first few weeks as Labour Leader, but the success of Andrew Little will depend on how he performs in the media well after his honeymoon is over. A leader couldn’t ask for a more perfect time to take the top job. His party is so unpopular that it can only go up in opinion polls. He has also been handed issues on a plate that any leader could only dream of early in...

Key apology would shut story down

28 November 2014
Political leaders hate apologising. They see it as a weakness and a way of handing ammunition to their opponents. The only exception to this recently was David Cunliffe who apologised for everything from being a man to going on holiday with his family. So should a political leader apologise? That depends. Clearly if the leader did something wrong, an apology is appropriate. The big issue here is whether John Key should apologise for something his staff did. Forgetting all the speculation...

My assessment of Andrew Little's media skills

19 November 2014
The new Labour Leader needs to work on his media skills without trying to become someone he is not. That would be a huge mistake. So what is he already good at? Little never beats around the bush. He ‘cuts to the chase.’ That is a vital skill these days where politicians usually have about 8 seconds to make their point in a television news story. David Shearer struggled with this, whereas John Key is an expert. Little should cope with...

Key quote highlights risk of humour in media interviews

12 November 2014
Humour is a great way to attract media attention, but as John Key found this week, it comes with its risks. When asked if he would advise Chilean President Michelle Bachelet that fugitive murderer Phillip John Smith appeared to have escaped to her country, the PM said: “I’ll just let her know that someone could be over there from New Zealand that she may not want to invite round for lunch.” Journalists always want interesting sound bites to bring their stories...

Empathy often the missing element in media interviews

8 November 2014
One of the biggest mistakes I see with media spokespeople is their failure to show enough empathy for victims. If a spokesperson is responding to a crisis or negative event that hurts people, the first message must always be empathy for the victims. It doesn’t matter whether you are at fault. You can show empathy without taking responsibility. For example, if there was an explosion at your work and someone was killed, you wouldn’t want to take the blame for it...

Recent news shows need for PR in schools

30 October 2014
Recent media stories have highlighted how important it is for schools to have robust public relations policies. Here are four headlines from major NZ newspapers in the last 10 days: ‘Police probe school bullying’, ‘ERO confirms school’s woes’, ‘Pupils suspended for hazing’ and ‘School Principal faces inquiry’. Negative media coverage can seriously lower a school’s reputation. This can have major ramifications. So what must a school do to deal with the threat of negative media coverage and reputation loss among important...

How many hats do your staff wear?

24 October 2014
John Key refused to answer questions in Parliament this week about phone conversations with Cameron Slater because he was wearing the hat of National Party Leader at the time, not the PM. This was a fair reply, but it does raise an important question. What hats do you wear when talking to the media? And more importantly, do you know what hats your staff wear? If you don’t, this could come back to bite you. For example, there have been incidents...

Media skills must determine Labour leader

17 October 2014
The next Labour leader must be the contender with the best media skills because it’s television where elections are won and lost. Much has been said about the likeability of John Key. And remember about 99 percent of potential voters only ever see him on TV. That’s why media skills are so vital. It surprises me when we hear all sorts of other reasons about who should make up the Labour leadership. Should it be a white male? Should a woman...

Ebola shows media power to sensationalise

9 October 2014
Anyone reading news coming out of the US lately could be forgiven for thinking the Ebola virus will wipe out the entire world population. That might be a slight exaggeration, but it does highlight that the news media is interested in selling newspapers, not necessarily giving a balanced account of issues. Sensationalism sells, so that’s what many media outlets will look for in their stories. For example, let’s assume three scientists all have different views over how many people will die...
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