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Superannuation confusion highlights media training point

20 October 2012
Recent coverage showing that John Key was unaware his Commerce Minister had asked the Retirement Commissioner to look at the superannuation age of entitlement raises an important media training issue. While difficult in this situation because a Prime Minister needs to speak on all portfolio areas, it does show how important it is for issues to be fronted by just one spokesperson. This is a major lesson for other organisations. This includes schools, businesses, not for profits or any other group. From a media training perspective, if more than one person speaks on an issue, their messages may conflict. This is what happened here between Key and Craig Foss. As always happens in these situations, their opponents responded with statements like “The left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing,” even though it was a relatively minor issue. This is difficult for Prime Ministers, because they have such a huge range of areas to keep up to date with. They must do this along with all their other duties. But for other organisations, this is an important lesson. We tell our media training clients they must have one designated spokesperson and someone else as a back-up. This eliminates the possibility of mixed messages, because everything comes from the one mouth. Media training is needed to make sure this designated spokesperson knows how to create these messages in a media-friendly way and more importantly, how to get them through media gatekeepers to target audiences.

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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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