Don't repeat Winston's big mistake

Posted October 13, 2017

It should be Media Training 101, but Winston Peters has fallen into a trap where lots of leaders have been before him and many more will follow.

I’m talking about giving the news media timelines or deadlines of when things will happen when you can’t guarantee it. Obviously I’m talking about his guarantee that a Government would be formed by yesterday. Now it could be next week. This is hugely significant for any leader who talks to the media.


Apart from the obvious credibility issue, there’s another consideration that most people are unaware of.

The media won’t be happy. This may sound strange because often the media push spokespeople as hard as they can to give a timeline or deadline. I’ve done this myself as a journalist and I’ve also guaranteed I would get a government minister to a national news programme before a vital deadline. I failed.

So what?

The problem is that the media will rely on your deadline. In my case, the television news programme didn’t have a lead story when it was almost on air, while in Winston Peter’s case, I bet Sunday Current Affairs Shows are now re-evaluating what their focus will be after initially planning to have a Prime Minster and Winston Peters as their guests. (Or could that be the same person).

So while the media may push for a timeline or deadline, you won’t be doing them any favours if you can’t guarantee it 100 percent. It's also likely to result in some very negative publicity, as Winston is now finding.

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