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School Closure story highlights media training point

28 March 2013
An item on Campbell Live earlier this week bought up a media training tip that can be valuable when the focus of a story is clearly going to be against you. The story focused on Salisbury School for Intellectually Disabled Girls in Nelson. The High Court had earlier ruled that the Ministry of Education plan to close the school was illegal. The story angle was that the Ministry was effectively “closing the school in disguise”. I don’t wish to take sides on the issue, but highlight an important media training point. With a story of this nature when it’s clear that the focus will be in favour of the school, whoever the Ministry puts up is likely to get minimal coverage, with the editors of the story only using selected sound bites. For example, much was made of the argument that the Ministry had not enrolled any girls in the school last year. While the Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying that was because the school’s future had been unclear, this was almost drowned out by everyone else believing the Ministry was literally closing the school in disguise. From a media training perspective, the best way to avoid handing all the power of what is and isn’t used over to the editors of the story is to insist of a live interview. That limits the power of the media to slant their angle against you and edit out points that you want to make. Live interviews scare lots of people, but with the necessary media training skills and an understanding of the media process, they are often the best way to limit reputational damage and portray your organisation in a positive light.

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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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