The actual headline in today’s paper says “Corporate Speak Sucks The Life Out Of Our Education System” but I prefer my headline as I’ve been railing against corporate speak in my media training workshops for quite a while now. Ron Forbes is an English language teacher at Kyneton Secondary College and he reckons the primary purpose of corporate speak is to obscure meaning. He says “this is a language with the blood and muscle of actors and verbs removed, leaving the hollow bones of its noun phrases clanking against each other.” Sadly, education is now being steadily corporatised too.
Forbes says the education sector is being encouraged to use words like “pedagogy” instead of teaching, “cohort” instead of student group, and “stakeholder” instead of parent. He claims we are in danger of corporate-speak sucking the life out of our education system and says that for us to hold on to our humanity, let’s use and value plain-speak and stamp out officialese.
All I can say is “hear, hear” – please let business people and politicians take note so we don’t end up with a society of automatons sprouting empty slogans.
Here’s a new tactic to tuck away in the PR saddlebag. The Federal Government has answered a reporter’s questions via a media release and, as The Australian reported today, this disseminated her story to rivals and killed off her chance of a scoop.
FOI requests are being handled this way too with Treasury and the Reserve Bank now releasing FOI documents on the same day to all journalists without warning so the journo who submitted their request sees their exclusive evaporate instantly.
While journos might be aghast at what they term a “breach of trust”, I can see how some companies might just use this tactic.
There’s non doubt about it, handling a tough electronic news media interview is not easy. I was reading only this morning how the Australian Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been shirking such interviews when compared to Prime Minister Gillard. This year Abbott has appeared twice on The 7.30 Report compared to six times for Gillard; no appearances on Q&A but one for Gillard; one on Sky Agenda compared with four for Gillard and none on Meet The Press where Gillard appeared once.
Looking at the softer options, the tables are turned. Abbott has appeared 10 times on The Today Show while the Prime Minister has turned up only twice. Abbott also comes into his own on talkback and shock-jock radio with 16 appearances on 2GB (2 for Gillard); nine on MTR (0); 5 on 2UE (1); 9 on 2SM (2) and three each on 3AW.
This fear of Abbott’s for tough electronic news media interviews is not his alone. Most business people we media train share that fear. Those who undertake our media training workshops lose a lot of that fear because we put them through very, very tough interviews that are so realistic we’ve had participants not want to do a second interview. Not surprisingly, when they do, they give a much better performance thereby proving the value of media training when it’s carried out properly by people who have a strong history both in the media and in media training.
Did you know there was such a field? Well, there is and it involves helping companies who have bad PR from not showing up high in Google searches. If people are bad-mouthing your company on blogs, forums or Facebook and that information is showing up in Google, the SEO Reputation Manager gets multiple “good” PR stories to show up and push the “bad” PR stories off page one of the search results.
The most recent example I saw was a a man wrongly accused of murder. Whenever anyone searched for this guy’s business or his name they saw a lot of listings talking about this murder. This was obviously affecting his business (not to mention his sense of humour I’d say) so the SEO Reputation Manager got the first page of Google completely filled with good stories about this man and his business. This pushed all the talk about the murder way down in the search results where hardly anyone would see them.
A few weeks ago, former Labor Minister Lindsay Tanner released his book aptly named Sideshow in which he lamented the demise of big issues and the rise of petty intrigue, gimmicks and stunts in the world of politics – well, at least that was the sub-headline written by Michael Gordon in The Age.
Let me tell you Mr Tanner, petty intrigue is a way of life in the media world too and that world has absolutely shifted to the realm of entertainment instead of information. Watch any commercial TV news service at night and you’ll be bombarded with court case after court case, celebrity tittle-tattle after celebrity tittle-tattle and just a lot of rubbish that has very little to do with news that matters.
From a media training point of view this means it gets harder and harder for any corporate person, or politician, to get a reasonable say on these programs let alone get their story covered at all.
Our training exhorts business to take a leaf out of the political world and rely more on stunts to get your message across. You won’t change them so you may as well join the media in its circus – if you want to be heard, that is!
Julia, you have to rediscover how to talk naturally. I have several videos of you being interviewed on A Current Affair last year (just after you toppled Rudd for the top job) and you spoke far more naturally – but passionately – than you do now. Here’s a sample from that interview.
Dean Frenkel, writing in The Age last month, agreed with my view saying it was time for Julia to drop the twang as it was really beginning to annoy us. He said the PM’s tone had become more robotic and less melodious. I agree entirely. She also has become far too slow in her delivery which is rather the opposite of what people do when under pressure.
In most of our media training workshops I can’t recall telling anyone they needed to speak faster. They normally speak too fast because of nerves and need to slow down.
Julia – please take note – quicken your delivery and pretend you’re just talking to that First Bloke beside you and you WILL give a better performance. Alternatively, book into one of our media training workshops and I’ll make sure you improve!