John Palino's media mistake

Posted March 2, 2016

Auckland Mayoral hopeful John Palino made a critical media mistake after his last bid for the job three years ago. When the whole Len Brown affair became public and people questioned his role in bringing it to people’s attention, he went to ground.

He was in Melbourne, issued a few brief press releases denying involvement and turned off his cell phone, meaning reporters couldn’t contact him.

Palino has always had a clear message on this. He did meet Bevan Chuang in a car park the day after the Election, but denies the meeting was about forcing Len Brown to step down. That’s what Chuang says they discussed.

That’s a fairly clear message, and one I don’t have an opinion on. But his big mistake was not making himself available to all media throughout the length of that story.

If I was advising him, I would have told him to speak to all media for as long as they wanted. Return all phone calls and even have his own press conference.


Because the last thing he needed if he stood again was this story hanging around. If he dealt with it then, he would have been given credit for fronting up, he would have got his message out clearly to everyone, and most importantly, the story would now be history. The media would have done the story to death, then they would have moved on.

But because he didn’t allow that to happen, its now become the hot issue of his campaign. He’s finding it extremely difficult to get his policy messages out. He’s doing his best, but it’s incredibly difficult.

I’m not suggesting in any way that he may be lying. What I’m saying is that he should have done his best to kill the story three years ago.

This is an important media training lesson. When allegations are made against you, the last thing you should do is run. Palino didn’t exactly run, but he didn’t do enough to make the story irrelevant three years later. Failure to front is also a sign of guilt to many people, and leaves the door open for speculation.

For more on my media training, contact [email protected] or 029 200 8555.

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