How should MPs use social media?

31 March 2016

Social media gives MPs a huge opportunity to attract positive attention in mainstream media, but so many seem to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons after posting thoughtless updates.

This week it was Labour’s Sue Moroney after offending the owner of a ‘flashy beach house’ who had not removed the alternative flag following the referendum. She was followed by Metiria Turei who posted that, ‘Me and my mate hooning in the car on a low-alcohol cider,’ followed by the hashtag SHITE. This was one of a number of strange tweets from Turei, including one with a picture of her with the cider, on her way to the premiere of Wilderpeople.

To be fair to these two, they are not the only MPs who have got into trouble on social media.

So how should MPs use social media to hit the headlines in mainstream media?

Anyone who has been to one of my media training workshops will understand what the news media are looking for in their sound bites and quotes. They no longer want basic points. They now want powerful language that helps them bring their stories to life.

This is the only way to keep people interested in their stories. There are so many alternatives for people now that stories must be exciting. It’s no longer enough for them to be informative.

This creates a major opportunity for MPs and anyone else who wants positive media attention. The answer is to dress up social media posts in this language, but only on important issues. For example, if a party message was, “Police should be able to carry guns,” that’s boring. Instead say, “How many more police have to die before we give them a gun?” I don’t need to tell you which one of those statements is more exciting.

If MPs gave some real thought as to the points they want to get through on social media and dressed them up like this, mainstream media would lap them up.

The opportunity is there. So why don’t more take it instead of hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons? Your guess is as good as mine.

For more on my media training workshops, contact or 029 200 8555.

Filed under Media Training

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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