Hone shows media training skills by use of the N word

6 September 2012
Hone Harawira may infuriate many people, but his use of the word ‘nigger’ this week shows how his media training skills keep him in the headlines. By saying on Twitter that “John Key can tell his house nigger boys what to do” people were clearly going to think he was talking about the Maori Party leadership. But soon he distanced himself from that, saying he was referring to National MPs. From a media training standpoint, this was a clever tactic, although he will never admit it. Firstly, it put him back in the headlines with a stance on the water rights issue that is likely to grow his support among Maori in the opinion polls. Secondly, by now denying he was talking about the Maori Party, he can distance himself from any negative feeling towards him from potential Mana voters. We tell our media training clients that any comments they express by using conflict will get them quoted almost every time. The problem is that most people get into trouble by overdoing it. Harawira is an exception to this rule. While his comments will infuriate many as they often do, his current and potential supporters will respect him for standing up for Maori. This could well see him poach some votes from the Maori Party at the next election. So while many may see his comments as a gaffe, from a media training and political perspective, they will only help him grow his support.

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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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