Obama speech shows the camera is always rolling

13 December 2013
The criticism levelled at Barack Obama for joining the Danish PM in smiling for a self-taken photograph overshadowed the US President’s excellent speech at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.Obama SelfieThis raises an important media training point. If you are being interviewed by a reporter or presenting to a group where media are present, you are on the record the entire time. If you give a great speech or are totally satisfied with an interview you have given, don’t assume the media are no longer interested in you. As the Obama example highlights, anything you do after that is still usable by the media. While you are not likely to be in the position Obama was with hundreds of cameras pointed at him, the same principles apply.  This is something we emphasise with our media training clients. Many New Zealanders have fallen into this trap. Former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley once let it slip after an interview that she had made up the figure she said former newsreader John Hawkesbury was paid out in a golden handshake with TVNZ. That became the lead story on TV news for three nights. There are numerous examples of this in politics and business. The point is that you are never off the record. Don’t think that when a reporter puts away a notepad or the TV camera is no longer running that everything is off the record. It’s not. In fact, this can be a dangerous time. You are now relaxed and your defences are down.   It’s a good time for a reporter or presenter to throw a curly question at you. Just stick to your key points. For more information on our media training or presentation training, contact

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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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