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Len Brown shows media training skills with campaign launch

16 July 2013
Launching his bid for another term as Auckland Mayor, Len Brown has shown some impressive media training skills that are often absent among political campaigns. Lden BrownHe has narrowed his campaign down to a three-point message. Announcing his run, Brown said he would focus on three important pillars. These are, transport, affordable housing and keeping rates low. From a media training perspective, this is what every candidate should do. It’s also what every political party should do at a General Election. It doesn’t mean that’s all they talk about, but they make it clear they are the priorities. All interviews should steer back to these points. For example, if Len Brown was asked about tidying up the homeless in the city, he could answer that by linking it to the importance of affordable housing. Or if he was asked about the Unitary Plan, he could comment on that by saying how important it was that the plan doesn’t lead to hefty rate increases. Whether it’s for a one-off interview or a full political campaign, our media training clients sometimes question the need to keep messages to no more than three points. There are two reasons. Firstly, a reporter will only ever use two or three of the points you make in an interview.  So by sticking to your three, you know they will be used. Secondly, people only remember a few things. If you want them to remember the issues you are campaigning on or wanting to get across in the interview, you can only give them three. I’ve often alluded to the Green Party message at the last election. It was jobs, rivers and kids. Simple and memorable. Two notable US campaigns are often talked about because of their simplicity. In 1992, Bill Clinton’s message was: 1) The need for change in Washington, 2) It’s the economy stupid, and 3) Don’t forget healthcare. Before him in 1980, Regan’s message was: 1) I’ll cut taxes, 2) I’ll increase defence spending, and 3) I’ll balance the Budget. Remember that creating the message is the easy part. It then takes competent media training skills to stick to those points and not sound like a broken record. Surprisingly, with the right secrets and techniques, it’s a lot easier than it may seem. Let’s see how well Len Brown does it.

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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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