Why Paula Bennett is my media communicator of 2014

Posted December 31, 2014

The reason Paula Bennett is such a good media communicator is her ability to come across as genuine and empathetic.

Where she stands out is her ability to accept the emotions and feelings of others, even if she doesn’t agree with their viewpoint.

For example, opposition MPs often say there is too much poverty in New Zealand and the minimum wage must rise to turn this around. When interviewed on this, Bennett disagrees that the wage should rise. But the key to her success is that she doesn’t dismiss the problem. She always recognises that some New Zealanders are hurting, and she feels for them. She then goes on to say what the Government believes is the answer.

By accepting the problem and empathising with those living in poverty, she comes across as warm and genuinely concerned about fixing the problem. This is something we focus on in our media training workshops. Too many leaders dismiss or ignore the feelings of others. All this does is make them look cold and heartless.

Bennett’s body language is also good. It would be pointless her showing this empathy with her words, but not backing it up with the tone of her voice or her hand gestures. If words and body language aren’t in sync, viewers always believe the body language. David Shearer was a victim of this. His messages were good, but his body language wasn’t consistent with them.

Bennett is one of National’s top media communicators. This could see her as a possible contender for the top job when John Key moves on.

For more on my media training or crisis communication workshops, contact [email protected] or 029 200 8555. 

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