Collins prolongs pain and fuels media fire

14 March 2014
Judith Collins has not only taken a credibility hit from the Oravida issue, but she has kept the story in the media for far longer than was necessary. Judith CollinsThis blog last week said she had done well with her response to claims of a conflict of interest. She came across relaxed and confident in her media interviews, and used positive language to get her message across that she had done nothing wrong. I stand by that argument with the information we had at the time. But with the new revelations coming out this week, her approach was clearly the wrong one. The problem we always tell our media training clients is that if you don’t release the whole story, two things happen. Firstly, you prolong the story. If she had told the whole story last week, the media would now be concentrating on other things. Secondly, your reputation takes a hit. While she may not have lied last week, people think the omission of important information is just as bad. We always use the Tiger Woods story a few years ago as a great example. Snippets of information came out every few days for weeks. That meant he was in the news for weeks. If he had fronted up on day one, spilt all the beans, the story would have died months before it finally did. I’m not saying what Judith Collins was in that league, but her approach has prolonged her pain. All she needed to say last week was tell the whole story and say something like: “I can see now that this could be perceived as a conflict of interest. I’m sorry.” People understand that everyone is human. They judge more on how people handle themselves in the aftermath, not the offence itself. For more on our media training or crisis communication planning workshops, contact

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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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