Media Language – Drowning in your own words

By Doug Weller

Image Source: The Age

Image Source: The Age

Media players, listen up. You can learn a lot about media language from the Eddie McGuire/Caroline Wilson ‘drowning’ saga.

Eddie McGuire is a media guru. A high profile Australian TV presenter, radio commentator, Collingwood Football Club President and former TV network CEO.

With that much media experience, Eddie should understand the influence and effect of his media words and know what is clearly inappropriate.

But Eddie McGuire has a history of media gaffes.

Yet again he has made media headlines, this time for his ill-considered comments about drowning female journalist, Caroline Wilson.

So what can we all learn from this episode?

For many people, the more media experience you have, the more relaxed you become.

When you’re comfortable being surrounded by microphones, you become less aware of them – they become part of the furniture.

There’s a long list of high profile people who’ve been recorded making private, flippant or highly inappropriate comments when they thought their mics were off.

President Obama was recorded during private exchanges with world leaders including Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev  and French President, Nicolas Sarkozy 

Australian Minister for Immigration, Peter Dutton, was caught joking about climate change with then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott when they failed to notice a boom microphone.

But Eddie McGuire wasn’t unknowingly recorded by a live mic. His blunders resulted from intentional comments during public broadcasts.

McGuire’s inappropriate comments about Caroline Wilson sparked national outrage and the fallout was substantial.

Female journalists were insulted, social media erupted and politicians weighed in.

Journalist and national convenor of Women in the Media, Tracey Spicer, found McGuire’s comments “reprehensible” and called for sanctions and penalties.

Australian Social Services Minister, Christian Porter, said “…it is no longer an excuse to say the language was meant to be flippant because it has an effect.”

McGuire’s comments even rippled out to the federal election campaign trail.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, cancelled a scheduled radio interview with McGuire and said “I just wish people would think about what they say before they say it”.

Major Collingwood Football Club Sponsor, Holden, reviewed it’s relationship with the club.

Richmond Football Club boycotted Triple M radio station which aired McGuire’s ill-considered comments about Caroline Wilson.

Eddie McGuire’s handling of the media uproar in the aftermath of his comments was also scrutinised and his initial apologies were deemed insincere.

In a further attempt to redeem himself McGuire made a video apology via the Collingwood Football Club’s website.

It would seem from Eddie’s repeated media gaffes that he doesn’t consider his media messages and their fallout.

Whether you’re a media commentator or a media spokesperson, what you say in the media and the language you use, matters – a lot.

Media commentators have the power to influence public opinion on many issues

Combatting violence against women is an important and high profile media topic. Organisations including the Australian Football League (AFL) are actively raising awareness of that issue.

Eddie McGuire is an AFL club President and the AFL itself supports White Ribbon, Australia’s national campaign to stop men’s violence against women.

McGuire’s inappropriate comments about drowning Caroline Wilson were made during the AFL’s White Ribbon round. His words were completely incompatible with White Ribbon’s message of preventing violence against women.

White ribbon released a statement saying the comments were “examples of language that demean women and reinforce violence-supporting attitudes.”

Female co-host of Channel 9’s AFL Footy Show, Rebbeca Maddern, put it eloquently when she said, “I think in the media, we have to be reminded that we are in a very privileged position. We have a voice. That voice is listened to by many people, and people absorb what we say. And in turn, because of that, we have a power to change the conversation and shape the public perception about certain issues.”

Treat media interactions with respect

If world leaders and media industry veterans can make outrageous media mistakes, so can spokespeople, even if they’re very experienced.

All media interactions should be treated with respect regardless of how casual the media moment.

Making inappropriate comments, or using offensive language in the media can result in extreme personal, professional, financial and reputational damage.

Even worse, your choice of words could harm others.

In the media, no matter who you are, think before you speak!

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Sources

Eddie McGuire’s gaffes file – when the Magpies chief and Channel Nine star’s mouth got him in trouble

Barack Obama microphone gaffe: ‘I’ll have more flexibility after election’

Nicolas Sarkozy complained to Barack Obama of liar Benjamin Netanyahu

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton caught joking about the effect of climate change on Pacific islands

‘These guys live in a bubble’: The AFL’s big blokey problem

Eddie McGuire’s comments ‘incredibly disappointing’, Cabinet ministers say

Eddie McGuire and Caroline Wilson: Bill Shorten snubs McGuire after ice pool remarks

Eddie McGuire: Magpies president to front board meeting as sponsor reviews links with club

Tigers boycott Triple M over Eddie McGuire, Caroline Wilson controversy

Eddie McGuire likely forced to apologise for drowning comments, Caroline Wilson says

McGuire’s Apology

Violence Against Women Is No Laughing Matter

Sam Newman blasts Caroline Wilson over Eddie McGuire ‘joke’ furore

Blog image by Ron Tandberg

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Fear of Public Speaking

Do You Fear Public Speaking?

Fear of Public SpeakingBy Doug Weller

I find the number of people who fear public speaking staggering.

When facilitating our Public Speaking and Presentation Skills Training Courses I constantly observe competent, professional people who are terrified when speaking publicly.

I facilitated a course recently with a very successful business person.

This person runs a prosperous national company and presents very well. He’s intelligent, articulate and a fantastic communicator. Yet, he hates public speaking.

How could somebody who is so effective and capable in his business life loathe public speaking? Why do so many people dislike it?

I’m not a psychologist, but I believe it comes down to the fear of failure, the fear of stuffing up, the fear of looking like an idiot.

Presenters feel pressured to get it right. They don’t want to make a mistake.

Famous people get nervous too

Entrepreneur and Virgin Founder, Richard Branson, admits that he’s always hated public speaking.

Branson’s introduction to public speaking wasn’t a confidence builder. His public speaking nerves stemmed from an “excruciating experience” in a school speech competition where speakers were abruptly gonged out of the contest if they made one mistake.

As you would know, Branson is an extremely successful businessperson, yet Branson’s negative experience in a school contest had a lasting effect. He admits speeches still make him nervous. But he’s listened to advice, practised and benefitted from experience.

Business magnate, Warren Buffet, feared public speaking so much that he backed out of his first public speaking course.

When he finally did participate in a public speaking course he took up teaching at night to keep his communication skills honed. Buffet believes that “if you can’t communicate and talk to other people…you’re giving up your potential.”

Mistakes are valuable

Understand that your presentation doesn’t have to be perfect. More than anything, people want to be informed and gain value from the speaker.

Public speakers make mistakes.  I certainly have. I often get tongue-tied, speak too fast, fall over words and occasionally have mind blanks. But I don’t let it put me off, I just continue.

An audience doesn’t gain much from a perfectly delivered but lacklustre presentation.

Know your audience and work out where the value is for those in the room – and also for you in the public speaking situation.

Providing value to your audience will matter more to them than a slick performance that wastes their time.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about making mistakes. You absolutely should care and you should learn from them to improve your performance. That’s what I try to do.

But never let mistakes cripple you in the moment and take away from what you have to say.

Learn from great public speakers

Observe how first class speakers deliver their presentations.

Whenever anyone asks me “Who is a great public speaker” I always give the same response…Barack Obama.

Obama is amazing; his public speaking and media skills blow me away.

His presentations are brilliant. Always articulate, always engaging and always to the point.

Barack Obama speaking about Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions demonstrates his skills.

His answers about Trump were short, sharp, clear and to the point. His language was easily understood. He paused in between messages allowing the audience to process what he said. Instead of speaking too fast, he allowed his messages to resonate.

A basic mistake speakers make when delivering presentations is rushing and talking too fast, but not Obama.

They deliver jargon and acronyms that hardly anyone can understand… but again, not Obama.

Barack Obama masterfully delivers clear, understandable messages.

Sometimes, the President will speak ‘off the cuff’ but other times he reads from a teleprompter/autocue, as he did in his Selma Bridge Speech .

No matter whether he is ad libbing or using a prompt, he always looks and sounds credible, genuine and understandable.

A really good way to learn a skill is to study others doing it well. Watch the clips included in the links above, and any other great speeches you can find.

Speakers like Barack Obama don’t come along every day – he’s brilliant.

 Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Sir Joh

Answer the Question!

By Doug Weller

There have been some subtle changes in media message delivery over the years – subtle but important.

Back in the days of the former Queensland Premier, Joh Bjelke-Petersen, Sir Joh Mediathere were many media players who refused to answer the question, but Joh turned ignoring questions into an art form. Comedians got great mileage out of it, “Don’t you worry about that”.

Then, the easy way out of a tight spot during media interviews was often to ignore the questions and punch away at the key messages. In fact many people still think that is the way to go.

I was shocked when I was asked to speak to some media students about media communications.

During the intro the host said “Now Doug will tell you how to refuse to answer questions during media interviews”. I had to do some fancy footwork to make sure I didn’t embarrass the host because that is not the way to conduct media interviews.

Journalists, and in my view the community, are sick of people refusing to answer media interview questions. The ‘ignore the question’ days are over.

You need to be believable and convincing in media interviews – this means responding to journalist’s questions.

Yes, it’s absolutely crucial that you go into your media interviews with clear, concise, jargon free messages. But those messages need to be delivered credibly.

It’s easy to respond to questions and also go to your message.

At the end of the day journalists want to leave any discussion or interview with a clear understanding of what you’re saying about a particular issue.

Responding to journalists or commentators questions is absolutely crucial in live radio, or TV interviews.

In some cases interviewers will simply repeat the question if you refuse to answer it. I’ve heard entire interviews where the journalist asks the same question again and again because it hasn’t been answered.

This doesn’t reflect badly on the journalist, it reflects badly on the interviewee.

Politicians are under increasing pressure to get it right.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister, Julie Bishop, is normally an excellent media performer.

But when she was asked during a radio interview to explain the nuts and bolts of new ‘transition to retirement’ rules, she attempted to give a vague answer and return to her message – it didn’t work.

Image Source: 3AW693 News Talk

Image Source: 3AW693 News Talk

Sometimes it’s OK to ignore the odd question and go straight to the message, especially in a heated interview. But not during an election campaign and not when you’ve upset the hell out of a stack of retirees.

Politicians, or anyone for that matter, need to be very good at explaining the detail when they’ve delivered painful change.

If you’re in the head space of ‘don’t answer the question, just deliver the message’, stop it. Those days are gone.

The other lesson from the Bishop interview is that giving vague answers and then going to the message no longer cut it, especially with interviewers like Neil Mitchell.

If you want to be credible in the media, send a clear message to journalists and audiences that you are willing to answer questions put to you.

Always deliver appropriate messages that are of value to you and that answer the question.

 Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Obama speaking

Who’s a Great Public Speaker? Barack Obama, that’s Who!

By Doug Weller

Whenever anyone asks me “Who is a great public speaker?”, I always give the same response…Barack Obama. Obama speaking cropped

Obama is amazing; his public speaking and media skills blow me away.

His presentations are brilliant. Always articulate, always engaging and always to the point.

Barack Obama speaking about Donald Trump’s presidential ambitions demonstrates his skills.

His answers about Trump were short and sharp, clear and to the point. His language was easily understood. He paused in between messages allowing the audience to process what he said. Instead of speaking too fast, he allowed his messages to resonate.

A lot of people make basic mistakes when delivering presentations.

They rush through it talking too fast, but not Obama.

They deliver jargon and acronyms that hardly anyone can understand… but again, not Obama.

Barack Obama masterfully delivers clear, understandable messages.

Sometimes, the President will speak ‘off the cuff’ but other times he reads from a teleprompter/autocue, as he did in his Selma Bridge Speech.

No matter whether he is ad libbing or using a prompt, he always looks and sounds credible, genuine and understandable.

A really good way to learn a skill is to study others doing it well. Watch the clips included in the links above, and any other Obama speeches you can find.

Speakers like Barack Obama don’t come along every day – he’s brilliant.

Further Resources

Barack Obama: A Master Class in Public Speaking

Germanwings crash site

Online Crisis Communications – Germanwings

Online Crisis Communications – Germanwings

Germanwings crash site

By Corporate Media Services

The Germanwings aviation tragedy demonstrates how fast news travels via traditional and social media during a crisis.

In the midst of the disaster, Germanwings and its parent company Lufthansa had to respond to the crisis while continuing to operate their businesses.

During a crisis, speculation, opinions, conspiracy theories, rumours and facts will be tossed around.

Company websites and company social media accounts are some of the first places the media and the public turn to for the latest news and updates on a crisis.

It’s really important that a crisis communications strategy exists and that websites and social media sites are crisis ready.

The media will be desperate for information. Journalists want and need the latest facts and updated content.

As the Germanwings coverage evolved, stories transitioned from the plane crash, to the recovery effort, finding the black boxes and the allegation that the co-pilot, Andreas Lubitz, deliberately downed the aircraft.

News organisations sourced information not only from Germanwings but also from a range of people such as the co-pilot’s friends, past partners, ex flight instructors, neighbours and acquaintances.

As the story  changes  it’s important that your website and social media accounts are updated with fresh messages.

In the digital world there isn’t time to develop an online strategy from scratch when a crisis hits. News now travels instantly and is 24/7.

Organisations must have a prepared online crisis communications plan which is ready to go.

During a crisis an up-to-date, informative digital presence is critical.

Germanwings provided regular updates which addressed speculation, empathised with family members and expressed the organisation’s shock as information unfolded.

For example, when Germanwings confirmed that the co-pilot had deliberately killed himself and everyone else on board, it  published the following update.

 

Germanwings online update

Source: Germanwings

The company message clearly portrays their astonishment, disbelief and devastation.

Every organisation is different so you need to deal with a crisis in the most appropriate manner for your business.

However, even small organisations are not immune to crises and should ensure their websites and social media accounts are ready to go.

These sites must also be able to handle a dramatic increase in digital traffic. Germanwings’ website went down when news broke of the incident and remained unavailable for some time. It was unfortunate as they were referring audiences to their website for updates via social media.

 

Germanwings website down

Source: ITV News

 

During a crisis it’s vital that the affected business  be the primary source of information, particularly for the media.

When a crisis hits your business you need to be in control, credible and offer timely, accurate information.

This not only builds trust with your wider audience but also importantly builds journalist’s trust in you.

Being a reliable online source of information for news media makes the journalist’s job easier. It also ensures your messages are at the forefront of what’s reported.

Messages must include latest updates and express empathy and concern.

High profile organisations and those facing a higher risk of crises, such as airlines, often have a ‘dark site’.

Dark sites are pre built company websites that are ready to activate when a crisis happens.

Dark sites:

  • are solemn
  • provide detailed information of the crisis
  • give regular updates
  • express concern
  • give instructions to those affected e.g. family members
  • are typically ad free
  • provide contacts for the media

Both Germanwings and their parent company, Lufthansa, altered their logos to black and white to reflect the solemn nature of the event.

Blackened Logos

Image Source: PR Week

 

The Germanwings homepage also changed to reflect the sombre mood of the incident.

 

Germanwings homepage

Source: Germanwings

 

Dark sites generally then direct you to click through to the normal operating page.

They ultimately allow organisations to appropriately deal with the crisis and manage usual business simultaneously.

There are many ways for an organisation to deal with a crisis. Just ensure that you’re prepared and know what you will do if a crisis hits.

Remember

  • Provide regular accurate updates, appropriate information plus messages of empathy
  • The message can evolve as the situation changes
  • Maintain your positive image
  • The organisation should be the primary source of information during a crisis

Further reading

We Are Speechless: Germanwings’ Handling of Media Inquiries Raises Concerns about When It’s Appropriate to “Wing It”

Crisis of the Week: Lufthansa’s Response to Germanwings Crash

PR experts applaud Lufthansa’s crisis communications approach to Germanwings disaster

 Lufthansa, Germanwings darken logos on social media in mourning after crash

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

 

 

bananas in pyjamas

Media Message Mayhem – When And How To Backtrack

bananas in pyjamas

Source: Buzzfeed.com

By Corporate Media Services

 

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, made an election eve promise not to cut funding to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and Special Broadcasting Service (SBS).

Mr Abbott then seemed to have a memory lapse, denying that promise.

The Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, weighed in with mixed messages.

Once Mr Abbott’s memory had returned, he admitted he did say there would be no cuts to the ABC and SBS,  “Of course I made that statement” he said.

Why it took so long for him to admit this is anybody’s guess.

The whole saga looked messy and ridiculous.

If you say something in the media  it’s on the record.  If you need to backtrack it may come back to haunt you.

Don’t try to make out something hasn’t been said in the media if it has. If you deny it, the media will soon jog your memory.

Journalists will simply latch on to your statement and hound you as they have done in this case.

If you’ve said something and you need to backtrack, do it as soon as possible.

For example, Tony Abbott could have said something along the lines of, “Yes…I did say there would be no cuts to the ABC or SBS but due to the state of our budget, I’m going to have to break that promise.” That’s pretty much where he wound up in the end anyway.

Pretending that something wasn’t said when there is proof it was, is a futile exercise. You’re eventually going to have to backtrack and it’s better to do that sooner rather than later.

Failing to be upfront at the beginning can do a lot more damage, as it has in this case.

It will simply keep the story going for longer and have a terrible impact on your credibility.

Remember:

  • Don’t deny you’ve said something in the media when clearly you have.
  • If you’ve said something in the media and you need to backtrack, do it sooner rather than later while being conscious of any legal considerations.
  • One of the main ingredients of a successful media profile is credibility. It’s hard to gain but very easy to lose.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

 

Obama speaking

Tan Suit Gets In Way Of What Obama Has To Say

By Corporate Media Services

Obama’s ‘suitgate’ scandal rocked the world! Well, it got a good run in the media anyway.obama tan suit

In a shocking back flip on his policy of only wearing navy, grey and black suits, President Obama had the nerve to wear a tan suit…the cheek of him.

Some people were horrified, a social media storm erupted and his media messages paled beyond a shade of beige as they were lost in the controversy over his outfit.

Reasons for the outrage over Obama’s tan suit varied.

Timing was a key factor as its casualness was considered inappropriate for delivering serious, hard hitting foreign policy messages.

Some thought it was too informal and disrespectful to victims of recent serious incidents and terror related atrocities.

It generated a gender equality debate about the fashion criticism of women  compared with men in the media.

Obama’s famous election rally cry “Yes We Can” morphed into “Yes We Tan”.

Then comedians got in on the act.

Bad day for tan suit

obama seinfeld suit

In all of the noise about the tan suit Obama’s important messages were overshadowed.

Huffpost tan suit tweet

Obama is a top class media performer. He delivers his messages like a pro and whether in a suit or an open neck shirt, he usually looks sharp.

You wouldn’t think a change of suit colour would be a big deal. It’s just a different colour.

When you’re high profile the reaction to what you wear can be a very big deal. Just ask Former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who copped endless criticism for her outfit choices.

You’re entitled to wear what you want during media interviews but if you present in a different or unusual way there may be a major reaction that eclipses your message.

Media audiences have expectations and get used to you looking a certain way. It becomes part of your personal brand.

Think carefully before you make major changes, especially prior to making major announcements.

You don’t want attention taken away from your messages because of a new look.

As superficial as it seems, it needs to be taken into account.

It says a lot about how ridiculous we’ve become about presentation but it’s something you need to be conscious of if you want your media messages to hit the mark.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Queen and Prime Minister

Prime Minister David Cameron’s Purr-fect Media Blunder

Queen and Prime Minister
By Corporate Media Services

If you’ve signed up to be recorded and filmed 24/7 in the ‘Big Brother’ house, you’d expect anything you say could be broadcast.

That’s the ‘reality’ of reality T.V.

But what about the news media? Surely you can  have a private chat without the world knowing what you’ve said.

Well, here’s the reality check.

When you’re dealing with the media everything you say may be recorded.  If it’s interesting, it’s news.

You should always assume that media microphones are recording because they are often live even when an interview has finished, or you’re having a casual walkabout.

The list of notable people being sprung saying something they shouldn’t have when they thought the mic was off is long.

Prince Charles was famously caught out at a press call saying under his breath how much he disliked one of the journalists interviewing him.

British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who is generally very media savvy had a major memory lapse about live microphones that ended with him apologising to Her Majesty, The Queen.

As he chatted to former New York Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, after the Scottish independence referendum he made a gross error of judgement.

Walking along a corridor with Bloomberg, Mr Cameron could not have missed the fact that there were media cameras and microphones everywhere.

Despite this, Mr Cameron breached protocol and gave Bloomberg his assessment of the Queen’s reaction to the referendum result saying, “She purred down the line. I’ve never heard someone so happy.”

He had obviously assumed his conversation was not being recorded. This was a mistake which somebody in his position should never have made.

Prime Minister Cameron was embarrassed, filled with regret and very apologetic. One can only assume he’s damaged his relationship with the Queen who no doubt was not amused.

T.V. and radio mics are now extremely powerful. They can pick up a conversation even when it’s being whispered and in some cases even with background noise.

When it comes to media, all mics are live. Forget this at your peril!

Remember

  • Whenever media is present, assume all microphones are live
  • Anything you say in that situation must pass the ‘front page test’ – would you be happy with your comments ‘off mic’ appearing on the front page of the newspaper? If not, don’t say it
  • Don’t relax around media mics. If you want to have a private conversation, go somewhere private

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Doug Weller

Helping Journalists Get It Right

Doug ABC Helicopter 300x200px
By Doug Weller

When I began my media career in the mid 70’s as a cub reporter in Brisbane, the world of journalism seemed very scary.

Fronting up to the news room each morning to be given a complicated story to follow was a terrifying prospect.

Sometimes as a young reporter I started writing a news story without fully understanding the details of the issue.

The enormous pressure to meet the deadline was the main driving force.

As journalists mature into the job they quickly learn how to get their heads around complex information.

However, understanding the precise details of various topics can be challenging even for experienced journalists.

Later in my career I attended a media conference at a major Melbourne hospital. About 15 minutes into the media conference I leaned across to a colleague from another network and said, “Do you understand what these people are saying?” She looked at me and replied, “No, I can’t work it out.”

Many people make the mistake of believing the journalist understands their issue as much as they do.

Reporters, especially those new to the job, often need issues explained in detail so they can produce an item that their audience can understand.

The more a journalist understands your issue or news item, the more chance they have of getting it right.

Journalists do make mistakes when compiling news items. You can help reduce those mistakes by giving them clear background information and explaining the ins and outs of the story.

You may understand the history of a particular issue – the journalist often doesn’t.

A journalist with limited knowledge of an issue and under pressure to produce a news item to a precise deadline, can be a bad combination.

In my experience most journalists are doing a tough job in a tough environment and are trying to get the story right.

Allocating time to educate a journalist about your issues will help the entire communication process.

Informing and educating a journalist about an issue:

  • Clearly explain the history of the issue and where it currently stands – This is called a ‘backgrounder’
  • A ‘backgrounder’ can be done verbally – backed up by any relevant documentation, statistics and visual information
  • Refer journalists to resources such as web pages and social media sites

 Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want to know more about engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our media training programs and services. Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Ricky Muir struggles

Ricky Muir Fights Back

Ricky Muir struggles
By Doug Weller – Corporate Media Services

Call me unusual if you like but I find politics really interesting.

I started covering politics when I was a cub reporter and I’ve been following politics ever since.

So forgive me for having another chop at the Ricky Muir/Mike Willesee interview, but the debate which has followed the airing of that exchange is an interesting lesson on dealing with media interactions and interviews.

Since my last blog on the topic, Motoring Enthusiast Party Senator, Ricky Muir, has come out fighting over his interview with Mike Willesee on Channel Seven’s ‘Sunday Night’ program.

In the interview Ricky Muir had trouble answering questions and required breaks to regain his composure and consult his advisors.

Mr Muir has now reportedly described the interview and his treatment as unethical.

Muir’s political advisor, former NSW independent MP and qualified media defamation lawyer, Peter Breen, wanted to lodge a formal complaint with the Australian Communications and Media Authority over Mr Muir’s treatment. Muir blocked that move saying “… I can either let this get me down or use it as initiative to get better.”

Mr Breen alleged that Channel Seven’s handling of the interview was unfair and allowed Mr Muir to become the focus of ridicule and contempt – “It contained the imputation that he wasn’t up to holding public office because he wasn’t a good media performer”, said Breen.

If you haven’t seen the interview make sure you find time to view it at least 2 or 3 times.

If you’re not involved in the media you might initially think that the interview is unfair or unethical.

But to describe the interview in that way is absolutely ridiculous.

Why?

If you’re going to interact with the media and put yourself forward to do media interviews, you need to have a basic understanding of the role of the free media in a democratic society.

In a nutshell, the role of free media is to observe and report.

You may think some media outlets do that badly but that’s another discussion.

Be very clear about this, journalists who work in mainstream media are not public relations or marketing practitioners. Nor are they involved in advertising -they are journalists.

It’s crucial that you understand that point.

Journalists have access to a wide range of powerful and influential people, including politicians. The vast majority of the population will never have access to these people.

So it’s up to journalists to interview these powerful people and deliver the results of those interviews to the public.

Ricky Muir is in an incredibly powerful position. He’s been elected to the Australian Senate.

He is now voting on laws which will have an impact on every Australian citizen and in some cases, citizens of other nations.

He is accountable to the Australian public.

The questions that Mike Willesee asked Ricky Muir were totally appropriate for someone in Muir’s position.

The interview was not a brash, hard hitting, ‘shock-jock’ style interview; Willesee was not aggressive, or pushy.

Experienced journalist and Executive Producer of Channel Seven’s 7 ‘Sunday Night’ program, Mark Llewellyn, has said that Mike Willesee was actually very kind to Ricky Muir.

Llewellyn is right. The questions were asked in a respectful and even gentle way.

In an interview with Crikey Llewellyn also said that Mr Muir’s assumption that parts of the interview would not get used were unfounded and there had been no deal for Mr Muir to go ‘off the record’.

“When did that kind of cosy deal become journalism — ‘the wink, wink, nudge, nudge, I’ll look after you if it all becomes a little too hard, possum’? What, by the way, are the ethics of censoring interviews and depriving audiences of the complete story? To in effect be part of that cosy club that shields politicians and keeps everyday Australians in the dark.” Llewellyn said.

When Ricky Muir had trouble answering the questions and took a break, this was broadcast as it should have been.

For Mike Willesee or anyone else involved in that interview to edit out any of that material in order to make Ricky Muir look better than he actually was would have been a disservice to the Australian people.

It was up to Ricky Muir and his advisors to ensure that he was adequately prepared before the interview.

As I said in my last blog on this issue, Ricky Muir should never have started his media exposure in a high profile television interview of this type.

He wasn’t ready for the questions and he wasn’t ready for the lights and cameras of a broadcast interview environment.

What Mike Willesee did was ask the questions and show the responses.

Remember:

  •  Make sure that you’re prepared for any questions that may be asked of you in an interview, especially the obvious questions.
  •  If you’re not ready for a daunting media environment such as an intimidating studio style TV interview, don’t do it.
  •  If you ever stuff up in a media interview don’t kid yourself that the interviewer was unethical. Look at your performance and learn from any mistakes. Interesting to note that’s what Ricky Muir said he will do, so good on him for that.

Further Information

Mike Willesee Interview Was Unethical: Ricky Muir

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you would like further information about dealing with the media contact Corporate Media Services for more information or training.

Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 9131300 737 913

Ricy Muir Interview enlarged

Ricky Muir – A Deer in the Headlights

Ricy Muir Interview enlarged
By Doug Weller – Corporate Media Services

Some people like doing media interviews. They are confident, love the limelight and are naturally good at it – but most are not.

The majority of people struggle with nerves and anxiety at the thought of being on TV, with cameras in their face, answering questions.

The problem is fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of stuffing up. Fear of looking like an idiot in front of thousands, or potentially millions of people.

Most people can easily give you an opinion on anything. However, shove a microphone under their nose and even the most competent and accomplished speaker can go to water.

Many media spokespeople loathe conducting a media interview. I’ve met some who become physically ill at the thought of doing one.

Like anything, the more you practise, the better you get. So when it comes to improving your public speaking and media confidence, start small and gradually build up.

The Ricky Muir and Mike Willesee Interview

The Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir had managed to avoid media contact for months after being elected to the senate.

Mr Muir remained elusive as requests for media interviews were referred to others.

Unfortunately when media shy Ricky Muir finally fronted, he leapt straight into a national TV interview with Australian journalist, Mike Willesee. Click here to view interview

Watching that interview, it’s fair to say he is not an accomplished public speaker.

He stumbled over his words, struggled to answer questions, asked to take breaks and was clearly rattled by the entire process.

There were at least 2 cameras, one facing him and one behind him, TV lights all around and members of the TV crew to contend with.

This is a hot, uncomfortable and distracting environment. For some it can be claustrophobic. Wearing a suit jacket in that environment, as he was, can make it worse.

It looked like Ricky Muir was having what I have seen thousands of times in media training sessions, mind blanks.

He seemed so uncomfortable and nervous, the words just wouldn’t come out.

Why on earth Ricky Muir or his advisors would choose his media interview debut to be on TV with Mike Willisee, one of Australia’s most experienced journalist’s and commentators, is absolutely bewildering.

Mike Willesee has been critiscised for the way he conducted the interview but this is rubbish. He asked totally acceptable questions in a non aggressive way.

Building Media Experience

The way to deal with inexperienced media performers is to ease them into the media interview process.

Perhaps start with some low level newspaper interviews and then move to radio interviews over the phone. The more interviews you conduct, the more comfortable you feel.

Television interviews like the one Ricky Muir was subjected to are tough for even the most experienced media spokesperson.

The last thing you should do without any media experience is sit in front of a TV camera and answer difficult questions.

I would never suggest anybody with limited media skills front up to something like that.

You work your way up to TV interviews, you certainly don’t start with them.

Remember:

  • Some people are natural media performers, most are not.
  • Never go into a media interview unless you are feeling confident and empowered.
  • Don’t do media interviews until you’re completely prepared and know what you want to gain from the process.

Further Information

Mike Willesee responds to criticism over Ricky Muir Interview

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you would like further information about dealing with the media contact Corporate Media Services for more information or training.

Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

n The Media Spotlight: James Packer and David Gyngell

In The Media Spotlight: James Packer and David Gyngell

n The Media Spotlight: James Packer and David Gyngell
By Corporate Media Services

Media big shots forget the media’s rules of engagement

Watching happy snaps and YouTube re-runs of the Packer – Gyngell biff reminded me of a 60’s episode of Batman. “Holy media mogul Batman, is that your tooth flying through the air?” Boom! Bash! Kapow!!!

Back in the days of the original Batman, the media didn’t have eyes everywhere -now it does, particularly since smart phones entered the equation.

It seems everyone wants to be a video journalist.

No matter whether you are royalty, an average Joe, or in this case two of Australia’s most powerful media players, what you do or say publicly could become front page news.

On a Bondi street in Sydney, media and casino mogul, James Packer and Nine Network Chief, David Gyngell became news for all of the wrong reasons and it wasn’t pretty – Boom! Bash! Kapow!!!

As they brawled on the footpath in full public view, the two giants of the media industry seemingly forgot one of the media’s basic rules – remain in control…no matter how cheesed off you are at the time.

Media audiences love celebrity scandals

Speculation, reports and claims abound that Packer was angered after learning that a Channel Nine News van was parked in his street and assuming it wanted to see him with his pal Miranda Kerr.

Depending on which media story you believe, the van belonged to an on-call Nine TV staffer who coincidentally lives in Packer’s street – no stalking, just standing, ready for the next day’s job.

Media audiences can’t get enough of celebrity relationships. When the stakes are as high as a celebrity billionaire and a supermodel, both recently separated from their spouses…..well, interest skyrockets.

Oh and please – save the tut-tut – you’re probably reading the stuff……well, somebody is!

The media thrives on dramatic footage and media audiences are hungry for sensational content.

Maybe a hamburger chain will get in on the act and release a biff burger – would you like a black eye with that!

All is fair game in the media

This begs the question, are media big shots beyond the media’s reach? No, quite the opposite.

If you look at the ‘News of the World’ scandal, it is apparent that even when you head international media organisations, the media knows no bounds, everything and everyone are fair game – just ask Rupert Murdoch.

The Packer – Gyngell Brawl

When it comes to the media you can never afford to lose control in the heat of the moment – no matter who you are and no matter what the issue. If you do, you risk becoming the story as did Packer and Gyngell.

Unbelievably, in the heat of the moment these two media powerhouses seemingly lost sight of how their own industry works.

Two of Australia’s most powerful and influential media bigwigs appeared to forget they were in a public place with an audience as they went the biff.

The entire scene was filmed, neighbours hit social media, headline editors had a field day and Packer and Gyngell were headline news.

Media points to remember from this incident

  • Bystanders are newsmakers – in this instance a neighbour took to social media and appeared on a national program to give a blow by blow eyewitness account
  • Journalists and TV network camera crews are no longer the sole source of news – Joe and Jane average can whip their phone out of their pocket, hit record and send or sell their footage to the highest media bidder.
  • Smartphone cameras are everywhere so be careful what you say and do; and where you say and do it
  • Drama trumps quality when it comes to content – grainy smart phone footage with poor audio is now more acceptable for airing in the media
  • Never lose your cool in front of the media
  • Importantly, if you’re going to have a brawl with anyone, do it out the back near the BBQ, not on the footpath…..and allow for a quick escape in the Batmobile!

Further Information

How the media covered the Packer/Gyngell Brawl

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you want assistance regarding engaging with the media, contact Corporate Media Services for more information or training about  traditional media or social media.

Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

Crisis Media Communications Case Study – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

Crisis Media Communications Case Study – Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

By Corporate Media Services

Case Study Background

The terrible tragedy of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will no doubt be discussed in crisis communications case studies for many years to come.

It’s hard to imagine a crisis with so many tragic elements, 227 passengers and 12 crew presumed dead, hundreds of devastated family members and friends desperate for news and no definitive answer weeks after the event.

This tragedy reminds us of the basic requirements for dealing with a crisis whilst simultaneously handling frenzied media attention.

In our post September 11 world, the global media machine went into overdrive when news of the incident hit but a lack of solid information in the initial phases led to media speculation, mixed messages, conspiracy theories, and confusion.

Crisis Media Communications Issues

This catastrophe highlighted many aspects of crisis media communications.

The Malaysian authorities and airline representatives were widely scrutinised and critiqued for how they publicly handled the situation.

Families of missing passengers and crew were desperate for answers about their loved ones. Journalists were clamouring for updates, and the worldwide audience wanted to know what happened.

What are the most serious aspects of this incident from a crisis media communications perspective?

  • The potential of a terrorist attack – highly sensitive information was limited or withheld
  • Cultural conflicts – between Malaysia and China (the majority of passengers were Chinese nationals)
  • Contradictory details of the investigation – were released
  • Multiple unsubstantiated theories of what happened – including pilot suicide, hijacking, aircraft malfunction, a bombing, and even the world’s first cyber terrorist attack.

As the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines – Crisis Communications and Social Media Document suggests,’ Companies must be prepared to engage pro-actively with the news media and with other audiences to ensure that they are seen to respond swiftly and appropriately, and that they intend to do “the right thing”.

The media is ferocious at the time of a crisis

In the early stages of most crises, individuals and organisations have little information about what is occurring.

A lack of detailed and verifiable information, combined with company representatives desperately trying to assess and confirm the situation, often prevents spokespeople from addressing the media at the beginning of a crisis. They are furiously busy getting their head around what has happened and how to handle it rather than working out how to talk to the media about the incident.

When the media wants information, it is crucial it receives some comment even if the information is restricted.

As seen in the Malaysia Airlines incident, extensive media resources were used to cover the event. Especially in the early stages of a crisis, that coverage was around the clock and unrelenting.

It is important that organisations understand the ferocious appetite the media has for news as a crisis unfolds. The media wants constant information in the early stages of a crisis when information is limited.

What if there is nothing new to say?

Some believe there is no point updating media when there is nothing new to say. However, most media outlets want ‘updates’ and spokesperson commentary even if there is nothing new to add. This is particularly the case in a world of live TV and web coverage that is 24/7.

During the early stages of this highly sensitive incident Malaysia Airlines spokespeople supplied information regularly; however some of their information was later contradicted. This led to confusion, disappointment and anger, particularly from the Chinese relatives of passengers.

The lessons to be learned from this incident are:

  • Communicate with the media as early as possible, but make sure the information is correct before making any comment
  • When information is limited, supply only verified material, keeping in mind any legal requirements
  • ‘Update’ the media even if new information is limited, or comment that there is nothing new to add. For example, suggest that you will update the media each day at say 10am and 2pm whether or not there is any new information to share during the first stages of the crisis
  • Ensure communication lines are clear and open allowing a professional relationship to develop between spokespeople and the media.

Further Information

International Air Transport Association (IATA) Guidelines – Crisis Communications & Social Media

Crisis Media Communications Training – Corporate Media Services

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is of a general nature only and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

If you’re currently dealing with an organisational crisis involving the media, or could be in the future, contact Corporate Media Services for more information or training about crisis media communications.

Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913

media training

Another Sensational Performance By Hillary Clinton

This is how we need to answer questions. Too long for most media but really credible and powerful.

Posted by Doug Weller

Make an enquiry now or call us on 1300 737 913 or +61 412 298 905

How to build relationships with journalists

How To Build Relationships With Journalists

By Doug Weller

Have you ever wondered how to build relationships with journalists?

It is important that you build and maintain strong, professional and mutually beneficial relationships with journalists. If your organisation has a media or public relations division, work with and be guided by, these media professionals to facilitate this process.

Most journalists work in a high pressured, competitive environment. They are always looking for a good story, photograph or TV/ Video footage.

Journalists need good stories

To obtain good stories, journalists need ‘good contacts’; people who can be a useful resource for providing information and messages.

Sometimes journalists will approach you for information (eg. in a crisis), at other times you will contact the journalist with a message you want to deliver through the media.

When contacting journalists, try to find an angle in your message that will appeal to them. Make sure you get to your point or key message and repeat it (remember they are under time pressure).

Know the deadlines for publications and radio/TV programs you wish to target. Journalists will be impressed if you ask them directly for this information as it shows you have made an effort to understand their work environment.

Taking the time to know what journalists want and need will help you and your organisation develop better relationships. This will in turn, improve your chance of getting your message used in the media.

Under no circumstances should you ever argue with journalists. In his autobiography ‘OPEN’, Tennis Champion Andre Agassi commented on his lack of media savvy early in his career. He noted that no one had advised him not to “snap” at journalists because it resulted in them becoming “rabid”. Without this knowledge he paid the price in bad publicity and media criticism.

Always remember you are communicating with your target audience through the media.

Make an enquiry now or call us on 1300 737 913 or +61 412 298 905

Communicating with the media if you are in business

Communicating With The Media If You Are In Business

First Published: 01/07/10
Last Update: 07/09/12
Author: Doug Weller
Words: 1,423

Today we are going to talk about the media and media training. I’ve been involved with the media industry for more than 30 years. I’ve worked in all areas of the media – print, radio, television and public relations, both in Australia and overseas. But let’s not talk about me, let’s talk about you.

You may not realise it, but you are consumers of news. If you didn’t consume media products, read, listen or watch media publications or programs, those media products would not exist. As much as people complain about the media, they constantly consume media products – everyday. The media is a business: print, radio, television and online. It is a very competitive business. It can be beneficial or disruptive, but never forget, it is a business.

Do we in the media deliver what people want, or what we think they want? It is a never-ending argument. Make no mistake, the media is a business and yes, it is interested in the ‘wow’ factor. That is what sells. Let’s get straight on to speaking about the journalists. If you want to know the main things driving journalists, it is ambition and deadlines. There is nothing wrong with ambition.

Regarding deadlines, let me make this clear, there is no point in a journalist producing a story if he or she can’t meet the deadline. You don’t know what a deadline is until you’ve been a journo and faced a media deadline. Let me explain it this way. The ABC TV News will go to air across Eastern Australia tonight at 7pm. It won’t go to air at three minutes past, or five minutes past. The newsreader will not come on and say “Good evening and welcome to ABC TV News. Can I tell you we have had one mother of a day! We’ve had people off sick, equipment breakdowns, it’s been murder but just amuse yourselves for the next five minutes, we should be ready by then”.

Do you go to the newsagent for them to say “Sorry, we couldn’t get it together so there won’t be a newspaper today, but there will be two newspapers tomorrow?” The media industry is an incredibly competitive industry. That is why we do media training, so people know how to communicate with the media industry – know what drives journalists. You need to know what to do when faced with a difficult situation or a crisis when you’ve got this incredibly powerful thing, the media, about to confront you – there are these journalists coming to you to get information.

Sometimes you will want to deliver the story to them and sometimes you won’t. People often say to me “I hate the media and I hate those journalists, they’re an absolute disgrace and I won’t communicate with them!” But what if you have a crisis? What if four people in your organisation are badly injured today and the media is gathering downstairs. What will you do? You’ve got a disaster, perhaps people are killed, what would you do?

The research tells us you’ve got between 8 and 15 minutes to get organised and start delivering information to the media. It is too late then to conduct media training. The media training needs to be conducted before such an awful event.

You can’t do media training on the run. Media training is a very focused process. You also need to have a communication strategy in place, and the presentation skills and communication skills to help you speak to the media and the public in such a crisis. Are you or your media spokesperson able to handle the situation?

A lot of people ‘freak out’ when they see a journalist. Don’t ‘freak out’. You need to think about how we, the journalists, operate as human beings under pressure. You’ve had this dreadful thing happen. It is emotionally disturbing, people are very upset. All of a sudden, the media is downstairs.

How do people who have not participated in media training react? Lock the gates. Lock the doors. Get security. This happens over and over in a crisis. Yet, with competent public speaking skills and a sound communication strategy, your organisation can activate an effective crisis plan to help deal with the media.

What happens when people are dealing with the media is that they forget about the most important thing, the public – the consumers of news. The Mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, during and after September 11, came to his media conferences with all the city chiefs behind him, and he went through a very simple process that changed crisis communication strategies across the world. He said “this is what we know, this is what we don’t know, this is what we are doing, this is what we want you to do” – he took the community with him.

We teach our trainees in media training that there are certain things you can control when dealing with the media, whether it’s a good news story or a crisis. These things are crucial to you being able to get your media message across. This is where your public speaking and communication skills are vital. If things get aggressive, don’t bite! What we are talking about here is being completely and totally in control of the situation by having good communication skills to assist your media communications and public speaking process. As soon as you lose control with any media you can’t get it back.

You need to think about what message the consumers of news are getting when they watch, hear, or read about out of control media interviews. This is the process we discuss in our media training programs. By the way, you need to be very careful with media training. There are old style media training programs and there are new style media training programs.

The media is constantly changing so media training programs and courses also need to change with the times. I am pleased to say Corporate Media Services media training programs are constantly updated to ensure we are giving our media training participants the latest in media and media trends.

The media industry is very, very competitive. Journalism is about pushing and meeting deadlines and yes, looking for the ‘wow’ factor, looking for a good story. Journalists will come to you and you must ensure you know how you get something out of this thing called “the media”. What will you deliver physically and verbally? How well honed are your presentation skills and communication skills? Remember, if you don’t take control of a crisis situation, what will the fall-out be from a poorly thought-out communication strategy?

Perhaps you will only need to speak to the media about good issues – let’s hope so. Even then, you need to ensure you communicate your media message effectively.

Finally, how many languages do you speak? When someone is being interviewed and they are speaking a language that is too complicated for people to understand, the audience switches off. All the audience has to do is use their remote control if it is television they are watching and go ‘click’.

So as an interviewee, you need to think about your audience and think about your objective. Who is the audience and what is the objective, because if you miss these, you can forget about it. Your communication skills need to target your audience and influence their understanding of events. It is no good having a great public relations department and excellent media strategy if you can’t communicate your message in a media interview. Before you go into any media interview situation, you need to do your preparation.

So remember, many of the journalists you will come into contact with live in a very pressured world. Try to work with journalists but make sure you know what you are going to say. Practise your communication skills and presentation skills and quickly work out your key points. Be confident and natural and remain calm at all times. In the end, it is what you want to get out of the media process that matters. Never forget this – out of the billions of media interviews that have been conducted around the world, not one single person has ever got into strife because of the question, it has always been because of the response. It is how you respond both physically and verbally in any given media situation and how you handle your public speaking, presentation skills and communication skills, that will have the biggest impact on the outcome.

Make an enquiry now or call us on 1300 737 913 or +61 412 298 905