Tag Archives: media interview training

Media Training Says Beware Of Social Media

Interesting story on Murdoch websites today.

“WHEN the head honcho of Nissan decided to offer himself on Reddit, you can bet he didn’t expect this kind of backlash.

But backlash he got.

Nissan and Renault chief executive Carlos Ghosn took part in a Reddit AMA (ask me anything) yesterday and, today, he’s probably wishing he hadn’t.

It seemed to start out fine. Mr Ghosn logged onto the social media platform with the invitation: “I’m the CEO of Renault and Nissan and we’re making autonomous driving vehicles happen by 2020. Ask me anything!”.

Mr Ghosn was lobbed with question by Redditors (Reddit users) but some have accused the company of manipulating the whole thing into a blatant PR exercise. Specifically, Redditor HimCaysE pointed out Mr Ghosn was cherrypicking very particular questions he would answer. Suspiciously, some questions appeared to come from accounts that were either new or didn’t have much of a Reddit history.

Another Redditor, chrisman01, wrote: “[It’s] extremely obvious, considering how all the questions that are positive and name very specific products are the only ones that get answers. Answers that all plug their products. The AMA is the most blatant PR stunt I’ve seen. Seriously, read these freaking questions and answers and tell me they don’t seem utterly staged.””

Some of the questions Mr Ghosn answered :

“Hi Carlos, I’m a diehard Datsun/Nissan fan that is very glad to see well the company has done with you at the helm and hoping to see many more years of continued success. My question is how you see hydrogen fuel cells playing a part in electric vehicles and if Nissan/Renault are investing, or planning to invest, in this technology directly or through partnerships? Thank you and regards, Doug.”

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn presents the new Titan XD truck at the North American Internation

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn presents the new Titan XD truck at the North American International Auto Show on Monday. Source: AP

“Hello Mr Ghosn, first off thanks for doing an AMA! Second, I am new to car sales and have recently been hired at a Nissan dealership, do you have any advice for a new Nissan salesman?”

“How do you intend to solve the issue of inclement weather with fully autonomous vehicles? Will they be able to deal with snow and ice?”

“Hello Mr Ghosn. As lab partners go, NASA is hard to beat. From Nissan’s point of view, what areas of research will this partnership benefit? CES showed how competitive this field is — do you expect collaboration with NASA to give you the edge? And if so, how? Thanks! Tom.”

Questions Mr Ghosn declined to answer included:

“During your time with Nissan, have you had any other type of car other than a Nissan?”

“What are your thoughts on the US government’s bail outs of the auto industry and how do you think those bail outs panned out now that it’s 2015?”

“Hi Mr Ghosn, what do you think about Google’s autonomous cars? What’s your competitive advantage?”

“Not that there’s a chance in hell, but I’m getting married in July, so can I have a GT-R as my gift?”

“What’s your favourite flavour of bubblegum?”

However, Nissan has denied that anything nefarious took place. It told Mashable that the “audience was pure” and that there was no astroturfing.

Nissan Australia had no comment to add and referred to responses from its global team.

You bet they did! We’ve been saying in our media training for some time that if you throw yourself open to the public be prepared! And maybe be honest!

Dress Appropriately For Your Environment

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.

Good Riddance Pell

I’ve written about Cardinal George Pell before and this time I have to say good riddance as he leaves our shores to take up an exalted Vatican position. What a pathetic excuse of a man to have a victim of church sexual abuse right in front of him at the Royal Commission hearing yesterday and not look him in the eye as he issued an apology of sorts.

It reminded me of Tiger Woods staged apology a few years back that looked like it was being held in a funeral parlour and lacked any emotion or credibility.

For those interested here’s today’s Sunrise report revealing that he apologised again at a Mass last night!

Whether its a media training workshop or a video production interview I always tell my subjects to put any pieces of paper away and look the interviewer in the eye. This builds trust and credibility.

I strongly suspect though that the global push by lawyers to take control of every aspect of our lives is behind a lot of people reading from prepared scripts. It just looks phoney!

Props – Great For TV Interviews And Press Photos

Don’t be backward in using props if you think they’re going to focus people’s attention on your message. But, if you do use a prop, just remember to hold it up higher than you normally might to accommodate the framing for a TV interview or Press photo. The same rule applies if you’re a hand talker and you want people to fully see your hands not just the tips of fingers running along the bottom of the screen.

Sharman Stone using a propThis photo shows Liberal MP for Murray, Dr Sharman Stone, holding up samples of SPC fruit at a media conference on February 13, 2014 as she welcomed the Victorian Government’s injection of funds to save the Shepparton factory from closure.

Watch the Typos – The Media Do!

A press article today says Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt’s office went into damage control on Wednesday morning when its spin doctors spun the wrong way.

In a media release to accompany the latest greenhouse gas emission figures for Australia, Mr Hunt was quoted in the opening line as saying: “Emissions figures released today show the Carbon Tax is still inflicting plenty of gain, with no environmental pain”.

Within four minutes, the release was speedily amended to swap the offending nouns, to say that the tax was in fact “still inflicting plenty of pain, with no environmental gain”.

The article said a spokesman for Mr Hunt wanted to be clear “it was my typo, not the Minister’s”.

These are the sort of accidents that can happen when preparing media releases and anyone involved in that activity has to be super vigilant. In my media training workshops I highly recommend reading the release back to yourself several times and, if possible, get another set of friendly eyes nearby to check your work.

1o Wrongly Said Sayings

There’s a really good piece on The Age online today that lists 10 sayings that people often get wrong. Because I’ve heard a few of these in my media training sessions I thought I’d post this so if you’re not sure you can check if you’re saying the phrase/word correctly.

As The Age points out, it can be incredibly embarrassing to get commonly used sayings wrong. Called an “eggcorn”, these slips happen when someone tries to use a word or expression they’ve heard that they’ve never seen written down, so muddle up the words. The name for these mistakes was derived by someone once describing an acorn as an eggcorn.

Here’s the first and last points on the list:

1. You’ll often hear someone say that something has become “a mute point”. What they should say is that it’s become “a moot point”.

10. Are you making major changes in your life, or job? Don’t describe this as a complete 360 degree change in your life. You’re not going full circle. You’re actually making a 180 degree change.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/small-business/franchising/ten-sayings-people-always-get-wrong-20140128-31jii.html#ixzz2sKGSbKdR

Monotone Slow Speaker Abbott Needs Better Media Training

I see The Age has finally caught up with our prime minister and his slow, monotone delivery. A piece in yesterday’s Sunday Age showed how he now speaks 100 words a minute slower in media interviews than when he was in opposition.

His rate today apparently is 108 words per minute, dropping from 216 words a minute. Normal speech is 180 words a minute.

The article quotes a Dr Cate Madill from the University of Sydney who thinks he has no “disfluencies”, that is, um, ahs and long pauses. To me, as a media trainer, he still has pauses and while the good Dr says his repetition is a good strategy to buy yourself time, it’s no good if you’re not changing the words. Merely repeating yourself two or three times in close proximity is a real turnoff for audiences.

I do agree with Dr Madill though when she says “the speech delivery of the nation’s leader resembles that of a puppet and is equal to the wooden communication style ridiculed in former prime minister Julia Gillard”.

I don’t know who is media training Abbott but I’d love to have a session with him to add some sparkle, oomph and briskness to his delivery.

Catholic Church Needs Media Training




Wow, does the Catholic Church need some media training. Archbishop Denis Hart yesterday faced the parliamentary inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations. Ruth Hilton from Moorooduc summed it up perfectly in The Age today – 18 years to defrock an abusing priest, then a smirk and a flippant ‘better late than never’ from Victoria’s senior Catholic cleric. Shame.

denis-hartI couldn’t agree more. There’s a place for flippancy in some media encounters but that certainly wasn’t one of them.

And the public agree – the Comment section in today’s edition of the paper was full of criticism of the Archbishop – as well as the And Another Thing column.

Next week it’s Cardinal George Pell’s turn at the inquiry and I can just imagine the arrogance that man will display.

Tony Abbott Sees The Light





Interesting to read at the weekend that Opposition Leader (not for long) Tony Abbott  has seen the light in relation to his media performances. Apparently Abbott observed in himself a distinct difference in the way he would answer people at doorstop press conferences (they’re media conferences Tony, not just press) and the way he would deal with people at a community forum in  his electorate.

Eureka – he’s seen the light. I keep telling participants at our media training workshops to imagine themselves in a social situation, be it drinks at the pub, a dinner party or a BBQ with neighbours. The last one is the closest to that community forum Abbott speaks of. And then talk to the media the way you would at that social situation. This lends itself to a much better, more natural conversation.

The downside is that you don’t have as much time in a media interview to put your case as you might in a community forum. But, gee, let’s work on honing your messages and then deliver them in that friendly manner. You’ll be really surprised at the results.

Abbott said he realised he was becoming a little snappy to people at his doorstop press conferences (there’s that word press again) and that really wasn’t a good look as far as the public were concerned.

He then went on to show his lack of understanding of the media by saying the people asking me the questions may as well be members of the public, rather than annoying journalists who are QCs for the prosecution.

Tony, Tony, Tony – the media are the public. That’s their job, to represent the public and ask the questions they think the public want answers to. No working journalist will tell you this but, as a former working journalist, let me tell you – journalists are merely conduits through to that public.

One of your predecessors, John  Howard, once told talkback man Jon Faine that he was there to talk to the public not to Faine – and Faine thought that was pretty insightful of Howard who, incidentally, was a master media manipulator. Take heed Tony Abbott.

Bfeore we go, let’s add some more business-speak to the list. In today’s paper I see these examples from a share float – “establish taxonomies”, “vendor agnostic integration layer” and “configurable naming convention management”. Good grief!

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.