NSW Premier Shows Not All Media Training is Good Media Training

barry ofarrellI can’t believe that Barry O’Farrell, the NSW Premier, has not had media training. He’s been a politicians since 1995 and Premier for two years. Yet Mark Hawthorne in The Age described his performance at a media conference yesterday on a new planning system as an impersonation of a talking Easter Island statue.

“With a bank of TV cameras at the back of the room, the Premier answered all questions standing stock still and staring straight ahead, no doubt just as he’s been taught. He referred to the journos by name without making any eye contact, except to the all-important red button on the camera.”

What a disaster of a performance. If you want to connect with the public through those conduits called journalists you really need to look them in the eye. We media train that at a media conference you answer the person who asked the question by initially looking at them (in a confident, friendly manner) but then widen your eye contact to include the group. If you would like more questions from the same person go back to looking at that journalist as you finish your answer. If you would rather someone else ask a question, finish by looking elsewhere in an expectant manner.

This story just shows there are good media trainers and there are bad media trainers. My guess would be the person responsible for media training the NSW Premier has had no TV experience at all.

Media Training Helps With Media Releases Too

Media training is not just about helping you prepare for a media interview. It can involve other aspects of the media encounter, such as preparation of media releases. In today’s Age there is a little item that says:

“When pitching story ideas, it could be worthwhile to check if the event being spruiked in a media release is still occurring and if the date of the milestone being marked has already occurred. Just a suggestion.

Obviously the journalist involved, Suzanne Carbone, had received such a bad media release. I always tell my media training workshop participants to ensure you have the correct contact details and, if you’re writing the release during the week for a weekend event, make sure you have after hours contact details so the journalist can reach you if they need to.

I was working on the Channel 7 newsdesk in Melbourne a couple of years ago when a PR lady called to thank us for running a story on her new health breakthrough. When I told her the international speaker we filmed had the words from the projector over his face most of the time her response was: “I wasn’t expecting television.” I told her that if you send out a media release to the media, expect all forms of it to turn up, then you’re covered.

By the way, it is media release, not press release as it covers all arms of the media – press, radio, television and internet.