My advice for Ardern and English in last week

15 September 2017

If I was advising any political party in the last week of the campaign, I’d be telling them to start using stories and examples to get their points across.

Jacinda Ardern showed how powerful this can be when she mentioned how Waikato Hospital tried to send her grandfather home at 11.30pm the other night. That’s was a great way to make her point about health system underfunding.



Because people are more interested in actual stories or examples than they are about abstract statements. People remember the personal story, but they don’t always remember statement like “the health system is underfunded and we need to fix it.”

Media also like to use concrete examples like this because they know that’s what people want to hear. She should be doing this a lot more.

So should Bill English and his colleagues. Rather than always using abstract statements like “We need a strong economy and Labour will destroy it,” they should say things like, “I was talking to a farmer the other day who said if a water tax is implemented, he will have to lay off 10 workers and his exports would halve.”

That’s so much more powerful but still makes the same point about the economy. That is of course assuming he did hear that story. Once again, the media will use that and people will remember it. It will also stop them sounding like broken records with their economic message while still consistently getting it across.


The other thing I’d watch is the use of jargon. They’ve been pretty good, but I did see a press release a few days ago that mentioned that dreaded term, ‘fiscal drag.” I’d bet that very few people would know what that means.

The media skills of the two main leaders in the last week could be the difference.

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Written by

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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