Russell Norman outburst part of media race against Labour

14 November 2013
Russel Norman’s use of the Philippines disaster to push his political agenda this week may have been directly linked to the media training skills of Labour Leader David Cunliffe. Russel NormanWhen Cunliffe became Labour Leader, I predicted in this blog that he would take a lot of media publicity away from the Greens. Former leader David Shearer was not good at giving reporters the sound bites they wanted. This meant they often went to Norman for opposition comments instead. My prediction has come true. Cunliffe has used his media training skills to give reporters what they want. This has increased the media profile of Labour at the expense of the Greens. That’s not to say the Greens have moved off the media stage. But they now have a rival for that opposition comment. This could have led to Norman’s outburst. He has a good understanding of the media. He knows that conflict sells and he knows the value of publicity. He knew his outburst would hit the headlines. While many would believe it unethical to use a statement of sympathy for the Philippines to push your political agenda, it would certainly get his message out about Climate Change and put him on centre stage. Knowing what reporters and presenters want is a major part of our media training sessions. This is something Cunliffe knows well. He uses it to his advantage. For example, he recently criticised John Key for the Sky City Convention deal. This is what he said: “Business calls him a map with no compass. He’s known as John the Trader and there is nothing he won’t trade.” The media love that language. Having talked about Cunliffe’s media training skills, Key is still a formidable opponent. He has all the skills that Cunliffe has, plus he looks and acts far more natural on TV.

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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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