Tag Archives: media skills

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.

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.

DFAT Needs Better Media Training

The Australian newspaper today carries a story about the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and their heavy handed media management in the Philippines.

Journalist Paul Toohey says the very first aid plane from Australia to land at Tacloban City was carrying a media adviser and when his photographer asked for names of people working on setting up the tents for captions they either said they were not allowed to say or ignored him. “They’d been media-awareness trained”, said Toohey.

Well, they weren’t very well media-awareness trained or they would have been doing all in their power to help the media get this horrific story out to the public so donations could pour in.

Toohey made the point that the heavy-handed approach (bloody stupid if you ask me) by Australian authorities was in sharp contrast to the US Marines who escorted media past security barriers and made sure they had unhindered access anywhere they went.

Looks to me like the US Marines are getting far better media training than DFAT in Australia.

Laurie Oakes Backs One Of My Main Media Training Points

th-LAURIE_OAKES-100x66Interesting to read today that veteran political reporter Laurie Oakes has slammed the Abbott government saying it is “thumbing its nose at voters” through a lack of transparency and communication.

“You can’t thumb your nose at the voters’ right to know and you can’t arrogantly say ‘we’ll let the voters be misinformed and we won’t help journalists get it right’. That’s just a disgusting attitude”.

And the man I worked with at channel nine many years ago is right. Abbott and his team are being extremely arrogant and making the mistake of separating the media from the voters. I keep telling my media training workshop participants not to make that mistake – the media are the people so if you ignore them you are in effect ignoring the people. They’d be the same people who vote you in and out of office Tony!

“They’re busily trying to avoid the media as much as possible and to control the media and so far they’re getting away with it but I don’t think they will get away with it for too long,” Laurie said

Laurie said the government should learn from the experience of British Prime Minister David Cameron, who sought to control media reporting more tightly after his 2010 election, but was ultimately unsuccessful.

Mr Abbott has held just eight formal press conferences since his September 7 election win and requests for information from minister’s offices are frequently left unanswered.

I strongly suspect it is the influence of his top adviser, former lawyer Peta Credlin, that is behind the wall of secrecy. In my view lawyers and media are a bad mix and if I was Abbott I’d be appointing someone strong to push for proper media relations….before it’s too late.

 

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.

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.

Turnbull Shows Honesty – A Main Media Training Point





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.

A New Aid in Media Training





Just discovered a new aid that I will be highlighting in ongoing media training workshops – Addictomatic at http://addictomatic.com/. Simply insert the topic you’re interested in and it will create a mashup of entries on that topic from:

  • Twitter Search
  • Bing News
  • Google Blog Search
  • WordPress.com
  • YouTube
  • Flickr
  • Friendfeed
  • Blinkx Mainstream Vid News
  • Delicious tags
  • Twingly Blog Search and
  • Ask.com News

Anyone facing a media interview would be wise to insert their organisation’s name and the topic of interest into that site to see what people might be saying – I reckon the journos are doing the same thing so be prepared before any media interview. I also suggest at my media training sessions that potential interviewees do a Google search and, if time allows, set up a Google Alert on the topic – again, these are steps the journos are likely to be taking and you should be equally as prepared particularly if you find some negative comments through these steps.