Could Colin Craig's defamation action be a cunning publicity stunt?

26 February 2014
While most commentators say Colin Craig should drop any legal proceedings against Russel Norman, could it actually work in his favour? colin_craig_2The general view among commentators is that he should harden up, and he should get used to being attacked by political opponents if he wants to be a serious politician. But from a media training perspective, this could be a great opportunity for Craig to get more priceless publicity. The point here is that those who like Craig seem to respect his focus of being honest. That is probably his strongest political asset. So if he uses a key plank of his election year message as something like, “Let’s bring some honesty back into politics,” he may get more support. And by showing up in the media defending this principle of honesty against Russel Norman, he could reinforce that point even further. Remember you have to be seen in the media to be relevant. You also only need 5 percent of the vote, or less if you win a seat, or get gifted one to bring in three or four MPs. The Conservatives will know why people support them. This perception that Craig is honest is probably high on the list. I’d say higher than any policy. So any extra media coverage they can get in the lead-up to the Election will be a bonus. This is precisely what will happen with the defamation. It doesn’t matter whether Craig wins or not. He just needs to be seen standing by his principles. Act would do just about anything to get the sort of publicity Craig has got lately. He may seem loopy to some, but a small fraction like him. Even more may join him if he can convince them that “we need to bring honesty back into politics.” My only media training advice to him would be to establish a clear message. That way he can repeat it so it really sinks in. It will also keep him out of trouble if he’s asked about another wacky conspiracy theory. For more on our media training or crisis communication 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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