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Hekia Parata takes media training advice

1 June 2013
Hekia Parata came across better this week when announcing the closure of Christchurch schools because she finally took some good media training advice and showed empathy for those affected. This is something the Education Minister has failed to do often enough when she has made tough decisions that affect people. We tell our media training clients that empathy must always be a key point used when discussing any issue where there is a victim or group of people that are disappointed about a decision that has been made. In fairness to Mrs Parata, she is not in control of what parts of her interviews the media chose to publish or broadcast in news stories. But she is in control during live interviews and she has failed to show empathy during these. But things changed this week. When announcing the school closures she said: “I understand that change is hard and there will be some disappointed communities.” She also said: “As a mother myself, I have every sympathy for the decisions parents make about their schools.” While that may not seem like much, from a media training perspective, it shows that she has a heart and understands the feelings of those affected. She doesn’t have to agree with their argument that their schools should remain open, but she does have to accept their feelings and emotions. Failure to do this can make anyone seem cold and uncaring. This is a common media training mistake. Mrs Parata will need to continue showing empathy when making tough decisions. Otherwise her popularity as Education Minister will drop even further.

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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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