If you wouldn't say it in a media interview, don't say it on Twitter

23 May 2014
It seems fairly obvious, but anything said in a public forum is fair game for the media to use. That’s why it’s so surprising that Politicians continue to get themselves into trouble on social media. TwitterAs we tell our media training clients, if you wouldn’t say something in a media interview, why would you do it on twitter? That’s unless you want the publicity. Maybe Trevor Mallard wanted the Speaker to know he thought he was a ‘Mafia Don.’ The latest big one was from Green MP Jan Logie. It said: “John key says Bill English has produced as many budgets as children. Begs the question who he has f&%d to produce it.” When the fallout from this started, she said she was mortified. But why would she be. All MPs must know that social media has become a great source of news for journalists. This is particularly so for public figures. She should have learnt from Labour MP Megan Woods two years ago when she posted an insulting tweet about the government during a partial asset sales debate. She said: ''Hitler had a pretty clear manifesto that he campaigned and won on. Question: does this make what he did OK?'' Do politicians who get themselves into trouble on social media not understand that media monitor their posts, or do they just not think? The other thing that makes Twitter so attractive to journalists is that so many comments make fantastic quotes. That’s because they must be brief, interesting and punchy. Social and traditional media continue to blend further and further together. But what many forget is that as part of that movement, journalists have a great new source for their news. So no-one, especially public figures, should be surprised if their tweets end up on the front of major newspapers. For more on my media training or crisis communication training, contact

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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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