John Key and rugby analogies

22 October 2015

It’s well known that John Key is a natural when it comes to media interviews. He comes across as natural and in control. But what the novice may not realise is his ability to get his points through media gatekeepers and into news stories.

Unless interviews are live, reporters will only take little snippets from interviews and place them in the final story. This is the same for TV, radio and print media.

John Key is well aware of this so he dresses up his points in ways that make them irresistible to journalists. He knows they only want clear and interesting 10 second sound bites for their stories.

He gives this too them. For his entire time in office, he has used analogies with rugby and the All Blacks to get these points across. National media archives over the last seven years will be riddled with them.

This is smart politics and smart media relations. He gets his points across with reference to a champion team and the media get great material fort their stories. Any leader should follow this lead. In media interviews, don’t just state points, dress them up in attractive ways before presenting.

Here’s an example.

When the UN delegates were being wined and dined before they voted on whether New Zealand should win the seat on the Security Council, he was asked how much the tax payer was spending on the visit.

His point would have been, “I can’t tell you that because we don’t want our competitors for the seat to know.”

But this is what he said. “Telling you that would be like Steve Hansen giving the England Rugby Team the All Blacks game plan before next Saturday’s Test.”

Guess what got used.

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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.

Add a comment2 Comments

Reply Len Pemberton | October 26th, 2015 at 10:02am
The PM's use of rugby analogous comments is pure genius! the average voter, sport's adherent, thrives on popular sport's comments eg, All Black present, past and future success.
Reply Pete Burdon (Author) | October 26th, 2015 at 11:56am
Couldn't agree more Len. By using them, he gets his point out, journalists get a great sound bite, and people understand his message.

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