Coverage of deep sea oil drilling highlights media training skill

25 October 2013
The National Party has failed to get a good news message out through the media about its support of deep sea oil drilling, despite the many benefits it would bring. Deep Sea OilWith issues like this, reporters and presenters can take a particular line that makes it hard to get the alternative viewpoint across. Campbell Live is often guilty of this. But there are ways to get these views out. We always share these with our media training clients. Simon Bridges clearly had an opportunity on Campbell Live a few weeks ago. He made the right decision to appear live, so that editors could not slice and dice what he said. But he was too wound up to focus on his message. Clearly he, and recently, John Key were right to reassure people that rigorous safety measures will be put in place. But they have to focus equally on the benefits the drilling would create. Or in other words, move from the back foot to the front foot. While the media still has control over what parts of taped interviews to use, if you keep coming back to these points in interesting ways, you seriously increase your chances of getting the point through. From media reports so far, it looks like National just wants to threaten New Zealand’s future by introducing unnecessary drilling. But presumably, the reason National wants to go ahead is to raise the standard of living for people, particularly those who probably traditionally vote on the left. This message is not getting through. Instead parties like the Greens are getting all the limelight for trying to save New Zealand from disaster. But with the risks being so minimal (presumably less than a possible outbreak of foot and mouth disease), and the opportunities for their traditional voters so great, there is far more to this than meets the eye. If I were advising National, I would suggest they get estimates of the number of jobs this could create, and exactly how it would benefit people. From a media training perspective, this is the best way to get the point across. It’s fine to say this will be good for the economy. But they need to be coming back to benefits again and again in different ways throughout interviews. For example, assuming this information is correct, they could say: “We estimate this would create 500 new jobs in Kaikoura and 2000 in Hamilton, all at more than three times the employment benefit. We’re doing it for these people and everyone else who will receive flow-on benefits.” At another point in the interview, they could say: “This could make us one of the richest countries in the World, and allow us to offer huge tax cuts to every worker in New Zealand.” These are the sorts of quotes and sound bites the media want. It would be difficult for them to leave those out.

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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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