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Aaron Gilmore makes media training mistake with apology

2 May 2013
National MP Aaron Gilmore made a media training mistake with his apology after he acted inappropriately at a Hanmer Springs restaurant on Saturday night. He was right to apologise, particularly after a friend of his admitted to leaving a note for a waiter apologising for Gilmore’s conduct on the night. That makes it obvious that the MP was guilty of bad behaviour. From a media training perspective, Gilmore should have thrown his hands in the air and apologised. While he does deserve some credit for the apology he did give, it needed to go further. He kept referring to "the group",(This included everyone who was dining with him) which looked like he was trying to dilute his guilt among others, rather than fronting up personally. Even if he was not the only guilty party, the note from his friend to the waiter shows he was a major culprit. From a media training standpoint, it’s all about perception. Although others in the group may have also played up, it still gives the perception that he is trying to share the blame. Gilmore should have apologised unreservedly and taken total responsibility for his actions, not tried to deflect some of that guilt. It’s like the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, (Not that I mean this is anywhere near as serious.) BP said they were not responsible for the spill, but were responsible for cleaning kit up. Even though that was a true statement, the perception was that BP were running for cover. Something we always tell our media training clients is that people are usually forgiving, but only if an apology is full and genuine. Just ask Shane Jones. Having said that, Gilmore appears to be a promising MP and this incident is not a hanging offence. It’s also his first infringement.

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Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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