Budget 2017 media advice for politicians

23 May 2017

Budgets are notorious for bringing out the best in financial terms and jargon, despite most audiences not understanding the majority of it. This is something for politicians to be aware of when they speak to media after tomorrow's big event.

How many people do you think understand the difference between a Balance of Payments Deficit and a Current Account Deficit? I bet very few. That’s why it’s so important that politicians explain what they mean before they comment on these things in major media interviews. Reporters often fall into the same traps.

We all make the mistake of using language that we understand, but may not even consider that the terms we use are not universally understood. I’ve been guilty of this myself, and I bet you have, even if you may not realise it.

Even terms like ‘debt servicing’ are too technical. If it means paying back the interest payments on a loan, say so, particularly if you want to win votes from it.

I also bet the classic term ‘bracket creep’ will be used after the Budget. Again, it’s important to explain what this means because most people won’t know what you are talking about and won’t pay attention.

John Key was quite good at breaking through the jargon, but most current politicians fall into the trap. We’ll see on Thursday.

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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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