Why David Seymour is my media communicator of the year

22 December 2020

While many would consider Jacinda Ardern the best media communicator this year, I give the award to David Seymour for one very important reason. He is an expert at getting a point across in 10 seconds and uses colourful language to do it.

Let me explain

When broadcasting media put stories together for news bulletins, they want short direct verbatim quotes from the spokespeople they interview that last about 10 seconds. In media language, these are called sound bites.

This means that someone could be interviewed for 30 minutes, but the media will still only use one or two snippets lasting around 10 seconds each. This means that smart spokespeople will be extremely brief and dress up the points they want to make in attractive language.

John Key was an expert at this and now David Seymour has taken over the mantle. Here’s an example. Seymour was asked what he thought about a suggestion to increase the Bright Line test as a way to control run-away house prices. Rather than say something like most such as, “I think that would be a very bad idea,” he said it this way. “Trying to end a shortage of housing by increasing the bright-line test is like trying to end a famine by increasing the tax on food.”

Why is that so effective

Firstly, he can be pretty sure the media will run with that because all they want is an interesting sound bite to help produce a better story.

Secondly, the media won’t push him for more information because they know they now have a great sound bite for the story.

Thirdly and most importantly, he’s made the point in a way people will remember.

While Jacinda Ardern had a good year with media, she generally had far more time to work with and didn’t need to get her points out as quickly as Seymour.

Broadcasting media often find it hard to find something useable for a good sound bite. If more people understood what they needed and how to package that up, they would get far better results. Seymour has mastered that this year.

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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