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Shearer improves media training skills with Housing Policy interviews

1 August 2013
The media training skills of Labour Leader David Shearer improved significantly when he announced the new policy of excluding foreigners from buying houses in New Zealand. David ShearerRegardless of the pros and cons of the policy, Shearer came across far better in the media than he usually does. From a media training perspective, there were two reasons for this. Firstly, his body language was consistent with what he was saying. He often has an effective message to get across, but because he looks stiff and unnatural, people don’t warm to him. But this time, he looked natural, expressing himself with his hands, and showing passion in his voice. This has been lacking since he became Labour Leader. The other thing he did well was have a clear three-point message and effective ways of communicating those points. This is something we emphasise to our media training clients. His message was focused on Labour’s Housing Policy which included building houses, introducing a capital gains tax and limiting foreign buyers from the market. That’s three points. Clearly the main point was the party’s new announcement of limiting foreign buyers to reduce demand for housing. But rather than keep referring back to that point verbatim, he communicated it in different ways. For example, at one point he said: “I feel for Kiwis who can’t buy a house and we need to bring in policies like this that will give them a fair go.” That’s the same point, but said in a way that didn’t look like he was repeating himself. This is a key to successful media training skills. That’s because by referring back to the same points, you almost guarantee they will be used when the interview is edited. And by repeating these points in different and interesting ways, you won’t be accused of sounding like a broken record. Time will tell whether this was a one-off, or a turning point for the Labour Leader.

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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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