Important media lesson from National Party Conference

1 July 2014

Leaders from all walks of life could learn a valuable lesson from the National Party Conference at the weekend. It is simply the importance of limiting the messages you want to get across and repeating them consistently.

One of the key points Ministers clearly wanted to get across was the danger of complacency leading into this year’s Election. They wanted to make sure supporters still go out to vote, even if they thought National would romp home. They continually emphasised that there is no such thing as a simple and clear victory under MMP.

From a media training perspective, if you want to get a message across, you need to communicate it in the simplest way possible. You also need to repeat it consistently and limit other messages.

This is exactly what happened here. John Key, Stephen Joyce and Bill English all focused on this point. This meant that journalists were far more likely to pick up on it. And they did. It was probably the most talked about point, despite the big announcement of funding for regional roads.

So many spokespeople and campaigns fail to get their messages across because they focus on far too many points. This means people don’t remember any of them, and reporters have a huge range of things to choose from.

Education Unions are a classic example. When they opposed National Standards, they trotted out so many points against them that parents got confused. On the other hand, the Government just said they wanted five out of five children to succeed. What do you remember most? They’ve made the same mistake while opposing Charter Schools.

Labour should take notice of how National got its big point through when its Party Congress kicks off this weekend.

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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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