Media Training advice for Mainzeal director

8 February 2013
Mainzeal director Richard Yan is making a serious media training mistake by refusing to talk publicly about his company being placed in receivership. As we tell our media training clients, it’s best to front up with what you can say than put up a wall of silence. All this does is make him look unconcerned at the fate of his workers, subcontractors and everyone else affected by the event. At the very least, he should show some empathy for those who have lost their jobs and subcontractors who are yet to be paid. If he came out publicly saying he felt for those affected, and outlined what would be done to minimise the impact on them, his reputation would take far less of a hit. Sometimes lawyers tell their clients not to respond to journalists, but from a media training perspective, he can make comment without putting himself in legal trouble. People forget that they are in total control of what comes out of their mouth. If asked what will happen to those affected, all he needs to say is that commenting on that would be pure speculation at this point, but everything will be done to minimise the damage. While not the ideal response, at least people would see that he cared and was doing his best for them. By failing to comment, he looks guilty and insensitive. All it means is that the media will look for other sources to quote in their stories. They may get their facts wrong and be unsympathetic towards Yan. This is a classic example of why media training is so important as an insurance policy against anything like this happening. It's too late once it happens. Without the training, spokespeople usually have little understanding of how to deal with such issues. They either bury their head in the sand, or claim to have been taken out of context if they do front. This is almost always because they don’t understand the differences between a media interview and any other conversation. This is why media training is such an important part of professional development. Will you know how to deal with a media scrum when you get that call from the media?

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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