There’s our Prime Minister running the country from an Army tent in remote Arnhem Land but what’s he wearing – a white long sleeve shirt and blue tie as he sits at his makeshift desk/computer for a photo/video opportunity.
How ridiculous. Not correct, in my media training advice. I know he still has to talk with world leaders, especially this week as we prepare to go to war with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria but, gee Tony, dress appropriately. Later in the same story I saw on TV last night he was dressed in short sleeve T shirt as he spoke with Aboriginal elders. If that sort of dress code is okay with our indigenous leaders then surely it’s okay for world leaders too, not that I believe he was in video chats with them. Who cares. He is in the Aussie bush and he should dress appropriately whether he’s in video chats or just telephone conversations.
By the way, whoever came up with that ridiculous strip of cloth to wear tightly around your neck should be severely punished. What a stupid concept.
The extraordinary investor Warren Buffett doesn’t need media training. He has a genuine, folksy manner about him that appeals to a lot of people. In other words, they trust him and he comes across as sincere.
His annual letter to shareholders went out last Friday and the New York Times said it “was written in accessible prose and largely free of financial jargon…it holds appeal far beyond Wall Street. This year’s dispatch contained plenty of Buffett’s folksy observations about investing and business that his devotees relish.”
Ah, if only Australian business would listen to that and try to replicate – not necessarily the folksy observations but certainly the lack of jargon part. We say in everyone of our media training workshops that you should be talking to the media as you would talk to someone in a social situation (eg. drinks at the pub, BBQ or dinner party). Sure, you might have to tame your language a little but if you head down that path you will give better interviews.
In that same vein of talking simply and sincerely, here’s a great farewell letter from the sacked CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason – how refreshing a read!
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!
Interesting to see Malcolm Turnbull on Q&A last night espousing one of my media training points – honesty. The shadow communications spokesman was asked what it was like to lose the party leadership.
”Gut-wrenching.” ”Devastating.” They were the two main emotive words used and, as The Age points out today, it was “honest and direct enough to make you look up at the person talking. Up in the control room at Q&A, they knew they had a moment. The camera angle was unsatisfactory. They switched angles, trying to get the shot tight on his face. It didn’t quite work, because Turnbull forgot his TV technique and kept swivelling to address the questioner.”
There are a lot of people who have been destroyed by political setbacks and I could have been – it was very, very gut-wrenching, it was devastating. It’s a devastating business, a terribly cruel business, politics. Because all of your mistakes and blunders are out there in the public arena. You’ve got nowhere to hide. There is not an ounce of privacy.’
Wow, real honesty – and from a politician no less. I am impressed and just wish more attendees at our media training workshops would take this lesson on board and be more open and honest with the media in future.
Have a think about public perception of not only your organisation but your industry. Are you one of the good guys, like a charity, motoring organisation or emergency services? If so, you’re a jump ahead of other organisations like oil companies and banks that are not held in high esteem by the public.
You can use this to your advantage especially in a radio or TV interview where some light and shade in delivery is paramount to a good performance. Lighten up at times, smile and remind the interviewer of the good deeds your organisation performs. Don’t be defensive as we see in a lot of our media training workshops. We constantly see participants writhing in agony almost as they talk about matters that really amount to good deeds. On those occasions look the part – be confident, happy and willing to share the good news with the listeners, viewers, readers.
Remember, we don’t want to see you constantly grinning through an interview nor do we want to see you looking serious the whole time. It’s the variety that makes your performance more compelling to watch or listen to.
We see this come out in our media training workshops and it’s always pleasing to see the change in participants once they realise they don’t have to be serious looking the whole time during an interview.