Media Training tip for Tony Marryatt

Posted January 8, 2012

The recent announcement of the salary increase for Christchurch City Council CEO Tony Marryatt brings up an important media training point. It was clear that Joe Public was never going to be happy with any increase for Mr Marryatt after the earthquakes. From a media training standpoint, that means it was going to be a bad news story for the Council, regardless of how it was communicated. However, the one media training rule for these situations is to announce it quickly in one broad swoop and have everyone available to the media to discuss it. That will mean the story will go away when journalists have had their pound of flesh. This is the mistake made in this case. Mr Marryatt was on holiday during the announcement, so he was not available for comment. But guess what? As soon as he returned, the story came to the fore once again with him defending his position. This led to a second round of negative stories for the Council. If they had taken the right media training advice, Mr Marryatt would have come back for the announcement and defended himself at that point, avoiding the need for journalists to reignite the story upon his return. This is a common media training mistake. Tiger Woods was perhaps the most prominent recent example. Not that this was in the same league, but if he had laid all his dirty laundry on the table early, the story of his escapades would never have dragged on so long.
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