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Another side show prevents Labour media message getting out

25 July 2014

It was only a few days ago that Labour leader David Cunliffe said the party had to stop talking about issues that don’t affect New Zealanders, and focus on the key messages of jobs, homes and families.

That’s good advice. If the party wants voters to know exactly how to distinguish Labour from others, MPs all need to focus on a narrow range of issues throughout the Election campaign. Just as we tell our media training clients to focus on a few key messages during media interviews, the same must be done for campaigns. That’s the only way people will remember anything. Keep repeating the same points over and over again in different ways.

For Labour to maximise its vote, the focus needs to turn away from unhelpful issues like Cunliffe’s holiday, Moas, unnecessary apologies and talk of MPs going against party policy to win their electorates. Instead, the focus must be narrow and on things people vote on. So it was a good call by Cunliffe.

But then two days later, Labour instigate another side show that will do nothing to attract voters. They are worried about the impartiality of Mike Hosking as a moderator of the TVNZ Leaders debates during the campaign. Although this may not have been at the leader’s instigation, the party has created another negative and distracting issue. Now the debates will all be about perceived bias on the part of the moderator, rather than the issues Labour wants to focus on.

Even if he is bias, which I’m sure he won’t be, any media training specialist should tell Labour that it’s not about the questions you are asked. It’s all about your answers. Also, TVNZ would never change their moderator at the request of a party. Perhaps John Key should do the same on TV3, as John Campbell sometimes come across as from the Left.

Let’s face it, we all have our own political views. But a professional moderator should ignore these during a debate. I believe both Campbell and Hosking will.

So all Labour have done is add another distraction at a time when they desperately need their media coverage to focus on what they offer as an alternative Government, not their complaints.

For more on my media training and crisis communication training, contact pete@mediatrainingnz.co.nz

Filed under Media Training

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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