Media communicator of the year goes to EQC Boss Ian Simpson

18 December 2013
He’s been under intense pressure all year, but EQC boss Ian Simpson has done a great job under the media spotlight. Ian SimpsonThere are few tougher environments than multiple interviews with John Campbell. This is particularly so knowing that Campbell Live had received thousands of complaints from disgruntled homeowners. The first skill Mr Simpson showed was his ability to genuinely empathise with the earthquake victims. He always came across as sensitive and sincere. Some spokespeople find this difficult. Where victims are involved, it’s vital that any spokesperson accept their feelings. If appropriate, it’s also good to apologise. This is another thing that Mr Simpson did well. He accepted that the EQC had not been up to scratch. The next thing he did well was explain how he intended to fix the problems. While any media spokesperson needs to be empathetic where victims are involved, it’s just as vital to explain how you are going to fix the problem. Mr Simpson did that well all year, even sharing his self-imposed deadlines on live TV. The third message point he used consistently was one of reassurance. In other words, his first message point was always empathy for the displaced, his second was his explanation of how EQC would repair the houses as quickly as possible, and his third was a reassurance to those affected that they would soon be back in their homes. This is the exact messaging process we recommend to our media training clients. What Mr Simpson has shown this year is that even if you are on a complete hiding to nothing, there are ways to not only survive tough media interviews, but grow your reputation in the process.

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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