VW Needed Some Media Training

VW needed media trainingVolkswagen Australia should have had media training before the debacle of its recent safety recall. If I had been running a media training Melbourne workshop for their top executives I would have said “you have to talk to the public about this and the best and most efficient way to do that is through the news media”.

Instead, the company refused to speak to the media and the public were therefore left in the dark about the problems some were having with their VW engines suddenly losing power. They were rightly puzzled as VW in other countries had issued safety recalls for the same problem!

By the time VW went ahead and issued the safety recall for 26,000 vehicles, the Australian public voted with their feet and stayed out of VW showrooms in droves.  On July 3, 2013 it was announced that VW sales had dropped 20% while the market overall was up 5%!

I can’t believe they refused to speak to the news media for a whole week before issuing the recall. They seemed to forget that the Australian public don’t like being messed with. They were forgetting also that the media are the people, and in this case, those people were potential buyers who obviously looked elsewhere.

One of the great media training examples.

Media Training Staple for UK Public Servants

In all media training workshops I have run, I have always stipulated the very real need for people to speak in plain English – mainly so they can broaden their reach but also so they don’t bore or turn off the viewers, listeners or readers. Now, I see the British Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has ordered public servants in his department to write in plain English.

Gove, a former journalist himself, has introduced 10 guidelines to get bureaucrats to write in language that their mothers would understand. He said officials should introduce one idea per paragraph, use a sympathetic tone – and make sure they spell the recipient’s name correctly.

I say it’s not just bureaucrats who need such advice. Certainly in my experience with the corporate world and training their executives to handle media interviews, it’s a far more widespread problem – generally concentrated in middle management with less senior and more senior executives prone to speaking like the rest of us do, in plain English.