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Trump team fail Media Training 101

18 August 2016

You would expect a presidential candidate and team to understand exactly how the news media works, but Trump and his team have shown a serious lack of knowledge this week.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Trump’s campaign Chairman Paul Manafort shows his misunderstanding of how a media interview works.

The focus of the interview was how Trump has been moving away from his core message of national security, law and order and the economy lately.

The response from Manafort was that his candidate had been focused on these areas, but the media chose to cover other areas like Trump discussing Monica Lewinsky’s dress and the possibility of people taking matters into their own hands to prevent Hillary Clinton from appointing pro-gun control judges.

What Manafort fails to grasp is that media will only ever publish or broadcast snippets of interviews or speeches. That’s how it works. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out what they will use if he mentions Monika Lewinski’s dress during a speech on the economy. Which topic will create the most interest? The same goes for implying that people may want to assassinate Clinton to stop the appointment of pro-gun control judges.

As I always emphasise with my media training clients, if you don’t want it used, don’t say it at all. That’s how it works. Trump’s failure to do this could be why he’ well behind in the polls.

He needs to stay on message. While he has always been controversial, he has been consistent with his focus. This is particularly around national security which incorporates his comments around the wall, Muslim immigrants and determination to destroy ISIS.

BP boss Tony Hayward found this point out the hard way during the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. During an interview about what the company was doing for those affected by the spill, he also said the words, “I want my life back.” We all know what happened after that.

If Trump doesn’t become more disciplined, I predict he will lose in a landslide. That’s unless there is another major terrorist attack in the US. Then people may vote on the issue of national security alone, where he may come out on top.

In a slight change to normal, please click on the following link to visit the page I’ve set up to help a 12-year-old Christchurch girl get the kidney she needs to survive. Mediatrainingnz.co.nz/Maddie/

Filed under Media Training

Written by

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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