No Media Training advice can help Peter Dunne

14 June 2013
The only advice a media training specialist could give Peter Dunne to re-establish his reputation would be to tell all and apologise for whatever he needs to apologise for. But because he will not do that, there is little hope of him ever regaining his reputation as ‘Mr Common Sense’ or ‘Mr Sensible.’ Clearly whatever he is hiding is worth more than his reputation. Is he guilty of the leak but won’t admit it for fear of criminal charges, or is he innocent but there was something too personal in the emails he refuses to release? There are many situations where leaders can legitimately not comment on something. For example, if something is before the courts. But if you can’t explain why you can’t comment, like Mr Dunne, you are in trouble. The only answer is to never put yourself in such an awkward position. Whatever his reason for secrecy, media training advice would be pointless unless he fronts up. That’s because if he doesn’t have the trust of his audience, media skills are pointless. All I can say is that he must have a pretty serious reason for not telling all because this way he not only loses his reputation, but suffers a ‘death by a thousand cuts.’ From a media training perspective, the story will stay alive until an answer is found. Commentators are already full of speculation, while Winston Peters knows how to keep it going by releasing new information every few days. This is exactly what happened to Tiger Woods. Because he did not come forward on day one and put all the facts on the table, there was months of speculation and a new girl coming out of the woodwork every few weeks. Peter Dunne is no fool. He is a savvy politician who knows exactly how the media works. He will also take no pleasure in handing Winston Peters the limelight as he has. He also doesn’t need any media training advice. That’s because nothing I’ve said here will be news to him. So all I can say is that there must be a very serious reason that he is sacrificing a reputation he has created over decades in parliament. My advice for leaders from all walks of life is to tell the whole truth if you are under this scrutiny. If you won’t or believe you can’t, it’s your fault for putting yourself in that position.

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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