Golden Bay High School offers media training lesson

6 April 2012
Golden Bay High School leaders have shown their media training skills this week by dealing perfectly with an incident of sexting. In a story that appeared in the Nelson Mail and Stuff, a girl approached school authorities after three students had obtained a sexualised image of her and sent it out to other high school students. This could have led to a neagive story about the school. But the response to the reporter's questions by school leaders turned it to their advantage. A common media training tip when confronted with negative stories like this is to front up and put your side of the story. Otherwise that side will never be seen or heard by audiences. If Golden Bay High School had ignored the reporter, the headline of the story would have probably read something like: "School policies lead to yet another cellphone scandal." The school admitted there had been other cellphone incidents. But school leaders took some important media training advice and identified some key messages they wanted to communicate, including their intention to improve their internet safety policies. The actual first paragraph read: "Golden Bay High School is boosting its internet safety policies after pupils distributed sexualised images of a fellow student." So instead of the story focusing on the negative issue itself alone, it focused on what the school was going to do about it. This was a great result and one that shows that management has recognised the problem and is now going to do something about it. From a media training standpoint, interviewees must identify key points they want to communicate and keep referring back to them to make sure they form part of the story. This intention to beef up internet security was clearly one of these messages. School leaders were more than successful getting it across, because it not only appeared in the introduction, but throughout the story. This example of good media training skills is something school leaders and spokespeople from any other industry could learn from. See the story here.

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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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