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David Shearer coup rumours highlight growing need for Media Training

11 July 2013
The breaking of the David Shearer coup rumour story this week by an 18-word tweet shows that media training skills are now more necessary than any time in history. David ShearerThat’s because anyone can post whatever they like on social media sites while reporters are constantly trolling Twitter and Facebook for interesting stories. That means anyone or any organisation could become the ‘news of the day’ whether they like it or not. This is why media training has now become a necessary skill for such a wide range of people and businesses. Let’s look at the Shearer example. There is some debate whether there is a coup building against the Labour leader. There may not be. But regardless, Duncan Garner’s tweet still created a great story in traditional media and one Shearer had to front. This was the tweet. "Good source. Coup on in Labour. Letter of no confidence being circulated. It's over for Shearer. Watch for his resignation." The same thing can be done by a disgruntled employee making serious accusations, an angry parent posting something about her child’s school. The list goes on and the post doesn’t have to be valid to create interest. But from a media training perspective, if traditional media run a story, you must respond to get your side of the story across. In the old days, disgruntled people would need to ring a reporter to get any attention. Not many people would bother with that. But now, they just have to set up a free social media account. They then become their own news channel and come to the attention of traditional journalists looking for controversial stories. That’s why we so often see tweets quoted in traditional media. This is something we discuss with our media training clients. To counter this, all organisations should have their own social media sites and have the tools to monitor what people are saying about them. The Shearer story may be a high profile example, but it does show how we are all in the potential cross-hairs of hungry reporters.

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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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