How were the media skills of party leaders in campaign?

24 September 2014

John Key

The Prime Minister was clearly rattled early in the campaign with the release of Dirty Politics. But once he got through the first Leaders Debate, he was back to his usual high standard. He stayed on message consistently, and got his points through clearly with his use of personal stories and analogies. (These were covered in earlier blogs.)

David Cunliffe
The Leader of the Opposition had a great campaign when it comes to media appearances. He is an expert at getting points through simply and quickly. At time in the debates he appeared to be acting too much. But apart from that, he did come across as a potential Prime Minister. Any issue his caucus or membership have with his leadership come from before the campaign got underway.

Winston Peters
The New Zealand First Leader knows the value of publicity. He always manages to get himself into the media spotlight at the right time. He did that again in this campaign, particularly with the foreign investment and dirty politics issues. This is why his poll rating are always dramatically higher when an election is around the corner.

Colin Craig
While Winston Peters understands the value of publicity, I’m not sure Craig does. Small parties need it close to elections, like babies need milk. But there was a period leading up to the election when the Conservatives didn’t release one press statement for almost three weeks. This was when the Dirty Politics scandal was front and centre. This was the perfect opportunity for them to claim the moral high ground as the party for honest and open government. But instead, they left this to other, less deserving parties.

Russell Norman
Nothing really stands out. The Greens co-leader is a good media communicator, and that continued throughout the campaign. Nothing startling happened. The Greens had a good message of cleaner, fairer and smarter. But they never really put their head above the radar, although the Dirty Politics issue would have prevented them to some degree.

Jamie Whyte
The Act leader needed some big publicity hits to become relevant. Earlier on, the “One Law for All” policy got a bit of coverage. This was mainly negative, but they needed to keep it going to maintain a media profile. They failed to do that, and didn’t come up with any other ideas that could get some front page news. The guns for shop keepers idea was one, but that was too little, too late. Act also suffered from the Dirty Politics distraction.

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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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