Key the master of the analogy

Posted September 18, 2014

A few weeks ago I discussed how effectively John Key uses personal stories to get his points across. Another way he does this successfully is by using analogies.

This was apparent again in last night’s final Leaders Debate. At one stage he was making the point that if people wanted a National-led Government, they should vote for National. He was telling National voters not to support a party like the Conservatives instead. He was concerned some people may do this so that National has a credible coalition partner.

To get his point across he used an analogy. He said: “If you want to eat steak for dinner tonight, buy steak, don’t buy lamp chops. If you want a National-led Government, vote National.”

Using an analogy like this does two things. Firstly, it makes the point clear. Secondly, and most importantly, he could almost guarantee that just about every journalist writing about the debate would use that analogy in their stories. That’s because it adds life to the story and gives the reporter an interesting sound bite. If you look through today’s media, you will see the sound bite everywhere.

This is a tactic Key often uses to great effect. Another one that stands out was his response when asked how much money the Government had spent on wining and dining the UN delegates a few months ago. They were invited to New Zealand as part of our campaign to win a seat on the Security Council. When asked, he made the point that such information had to remain confidential. But when asked again he said: “Making those details public would be like Steve Hansen giving the English Rugby Team the All Blacks game plan before Saturday’s Test.”

Once again, this made the point totally clear. It was also a classic sound bite for reporters to use in their stories.

These examples how effective analogies are to get points through to the media. Key is an expert. Having said that, David Cunliffe is also good at getting his points across to media clearly and in interesting ways.

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

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