Megan Woods highlights importance of media training for social media users

30 June 2012
Comments made by new Labour MP Megan Woods on Twitter this week show how important media training skills are for high profile social media users. The Wigram MP said on Twitter after the vote to sell shares in state assets that: ''Hitler had a pretty clear manifesto that he campaigned and won on. Question: does this make what he did OK?'' This was clearly an inaccurate and offensive statement, but it does bring up some interesting points. Firstly, because Twitter only allows 140 characters in postings, writers need to get straight to the point. The best way to make an impact is by using the media training approach of creating a quote or sound bite that will attract interest. In other words, dress up the point you want to make with colourful language. This is exactly what Woods did and why she got so much attention. Her quote included a number of elements that attract interest. These were conflict, emotion and the use of an analogy. The comment was clearly wrong on so many counts and inappropriate, but from a media training perspective, it was the perfect sound bite. The whole issue brings up another important point. I’m not sure if Woods realised her comments would make it into traditional media, but many people don’t realise this when they get controversial on Social Media sites. Sportspeople are the classic example. My point is that if you say something like this on Twitter or Facebook, you better have good media training skills to defend your comments in front of the TV camera.

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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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