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Government does a 'Tiger Woods' with Sroubek

14 December 2018

The PR handling of the Sroubek issue by the Government has been woeful and reminds me of how Tiger Woods dealt with all the allegations around his infidelity. The term, ‘death by a thousand cuts’ comes to mind, and there’s no indication that publicity about this will end any time soon.

It’s pretty obvious that Immigration Iain Lees-Galloway made some fundamental errors when he initially allowed Sroubek to stay. He didn’t read the entire document about it from his officials, while it also appears some fundamental things were missing from that document. But he’s the Minister and the buck stops with him.

He should have apologised

An apology would have done two things. It would have limited damage to the Government. So many leaders fail to realise that people forgive mistakes. But they don’t forgive people who fail to own up to them. Because there’s been no apology, the entire Government has now been affected, including the PM and Deputy Pm, who have both defended their Minister.

The second thing an apology would do is limit the length of the story. It’s now been two months and its still in the headlines. If he’d apologised and immediately changed the decision, the media and voters would move on as there’d be little left to say. We would also have been spared all the stories about other law-abiding people who weren’t allowed to stay in NZ.

How is the Government handling it now?

Even though the decision was finally reversed, the Government haven’t learnt their lesson. Jacinda Adern’s decision not to release the text from Richie Hardcore will keep this going for another month. That will please the media because at the end of next week there will be very little happening for them to fill their pages and news programmes with.

People are already speculating about the text and why she won’t release it. That will go on until it has to be released under the Official Information Act. That will lead to another round of stories. National will be loving this.

How does this relate to Tiger Woods?

When the news about Tiger Woods broke he went to ground. That lead to months of news stories and speculation and more women kept coming out of the woodwork saying they had had affairs with the golfer. Then when he did speak to media, he read a statement and didn’t answer any questions. That led to more speculation.

As soon as the news broke, he should have fronted the media, apologised to anyone he’d offended or disrespected and told the whole story. Then the story would have died many months earlier than it did. The same would have happened to the Sroubeck story if the Government had front-footed it.

Get my free report, Media Interview Survival System, at www.PeteBurdon.com 

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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