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Media Training advice for Talent2 boss

21 February 2013
Talent2 boss John Rawlinson broke all the media training rules about how to deal with ambush interviews when approached by Campbell Live’s John Selwood at his home in Melbourne on Sunday. Ambush interviews are when the media turn up unannounced and fire questions at you with the camera rolling. Firstly, when Rawlinson saw the TV crew, he heavily criticised Selwood for camping at his gate, saying it was Sunday and he was busy. The anger was obvious in his voice. This was great footage for TV. This is where he broke the first media training rule of ambush interviews. He should have politely said he was off to a meeting, but would be happy to be interviewed at a convenient time later in the day. This footage would be too boring to use, so the crew would have no choice but to return on his terms. This would have allowed him time to compose himself, work out what he wanted to say, and brush up on his media training skills. If Rawlinson had taken some time to work out his approach, he never would have said what he did or use that tone of voice.To prove this point, he did compose himself in the second part of the interview. He calmed down a bit, and offered an apology of sorts to all those affected by the ongoing bungles. But by then the damage had been done. He had already lost all respect from viewers. We show our media training clients how to deal with ambush interviews on the off-chance they will ever find themselves in the middle of one. The best way to avoid them is to agree to formal interview requests. This is particularly so if you feel you have a responsibility to front up, or if it’s in your best interests to put your case. It’s usually when you fail to front that the media consider the ambush as a tactic. That was certainly why it happened in this case. Campbell Live had requested an interview many times, but had no joy. They saw this as the only way to get comment from a man at the centre of the fiasco.

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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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