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Media Training advice for Council candidates

5 September 2013
Media training skills are vital for all Local Government candidates, because if they don’t all have a clear message about why voters should tick the box beside their name, they are unlikely to succeed. councilThis is a classic example where media training is not only useful for media interviews. Before I vote for someone, I want to know why I should vote for them. It’s not enough to say they have a successful background and they are committed. I would expect that. What I want to know is “What do they stand for?” and “What can they do for me?” With our media training clients, we tell them they must always have a basic three-point message prepared for every interview. With Local Government, you only need one or two. The key is to find out what voters care about, and focus specifically on that issue. You also need to care about it. Then when you are asked questions about something else, you transfer back to your point. For example, let’s say “Open Government” is your big issue. You think there should be far more transparency around the decisions made by your Council. If then asked, “How will you help the local economy,” you could respond with, “The problem with council decisions that affect the local economy are that they are all made behind closed doors. Ratepayers need to know exactly what’s happening and be far more involved in the decision-making process.” Many of our media training clients ask why they should stick to a few points. For a media interview, it’s so that your points make the cut. With Council candidates, it’s the only way people will remember you. You can become known as the “Open Government” candidate. The alternative is that you rely on name recognition because if you have five or ten points, no-one will remember any of them. Most candidates fail this test. How many candidates do you know that have a message? A slogan of the message can also be placed on billboards. While words must be kept to a minimum, something like “Open Government” would work. It’s better than nothing. We know you are all successful and good people. But why should I give you my vote?

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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