Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 1

Volume 1, Edition 1 – 29 April 2010

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsMelbourne Storm and the Crisis Ripple Effect – How would you handle the media if this happened to you?

It will be a long time before the dust settles following the eruption last week within the rugby league football club, Melbourne Storm. The unprecedented crisis for an Australian sporting club unfolded into what we call a Crisis Ripple Effect.

What was a crisis for Melbourne Storm last Thursday afternoon as the news broke had become, by early Friday, a crisis for a range of other organisations as the Crisis Ripple Effect took hold.

Organisations such as sponsors and other sporting bodies across Australia found themselves swamped by calls from a media, desperate for comment on this incredible story.

A series of quickly organised media doorstops and media conferences were held, as individuals and organisations attempted to limit the damage to their reputations.

Dealing with a Crisis Ripple Effect is different to dealing with a direct crisis: a different media strategy needs to be quickly implemented.

If you suspect you may be hit by a Crisis Ripple Effect, ensure you start preparing your key messages and spokesperson or spokespeople immediately.

If the media is coming to your premises, pick your interview location and ensure your signage is NOT in the background. Choose your words carefully and only speak about your issues, not others.

Look professional, sound professional, remain calm and stay on-message.

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

Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 2

Volume 1, Edition 2 – 26 May 2010

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsFor Aker it must have seemed like a good idea at the time

When Corporate Media Services conducts media training courses, we make the point over and over: Why are you engaging the media? Why are you giving up your time to conduct a media interview? What’s the point?

There are generally only two reasons why you would speak to the media:

1. To be proactive – promote a positive message.
2. To be reactive – manage a crisis.

In both of these situations, it is absolutely essential that you understand what you’re going to say, how you’re going to say it, why you’re going to say it and what the likely fallout will be from your comments.

You should never speak to the media unless you are absolutely clear, or as clear as you can be, in relation to these points.

There has been an enormous amount of publicity given to the comments made by AFL Western Bulldogs Forward, Jason Akermanis, about gay football players revealing their homosexuality. He suggested there was “gay hunting going on” in order to encourage gay footballers to come out.

In one interview he said, “Football is seen to be at the peak of masculinity, which of course then makes homophobia almost at its peak. So we, as footballers, need to be more open if there is, and accept people if they would come out, but at the moment, I’m not sure that while you’re playing, it would be a safe thing.”

The storm these comments created is clear to even the most casual media observer.  It even created the ‘crisis ripple effect‘ that we spoke about in the last e-Bulletin.

So what was the point of all this? Maybe we will never know.

What we do know is that his public comments were not clear or focused, they were confusing. Most importantly, what was the point he was trying to make and what was he trying to achieve? His message was ambiguous and his stance unclear.

Never fall into this trap. If you are going to engage media, know what you want to achieve and why. What is the benefit to you and your organisation?

If your comments are going to be controversial, understand that they may create a media frenzy. Be ready for that and know how you are going to handle it.

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

Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 3

Volume 1, Edition 3 – 13 October 2010

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsNew Media – Old Rules – How one quick quip can destroy your reputation

More than 30 years ago when I began my journalism career, we didn’t have Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn or any of the other new communication tools that we have today.

But we did have senior editors who gave good advice. Some of that advice has lasted a lifetime for me. It should be taken on board by those using new media in 2010.

I can remember on my second day as a cub reporter, an editor said (or screamed), “If in doubt, leave out”.

Throughout the years, I have passed those words on to younger journalists and I now find myself giving the same advice to clients who need to deal with media situations.

That advice is even more relevant now as we all try to grapple with and use social media and social networking.

We began talking about social media and social networking in our media training courses when it became clear that clients could use these tools to extend their media reach, but more importantly, when it was clear the damage that could be caused when not controlled.

Every day, the list of those being hammered by the misuse of new media grows:

. A Professor from the University in Pennsylvania sacked after making “light-hearted” comments about looking for a hit man after a bad day in the classroom

  • Two employees at Domino’s Pizza sacked after doing “vile things” to food and posting it on YouTube
  • An Age newspaper journalist recently sacked for sending out “offensive comments” on Twitter during the Logies
  • Not only have these incidences impacted on the employees, they have impacted on the reputations of their now former employers.

While new and social media expands our ability to reach new and larger audiences, it needs to be treated with extreme caution. The absence of journalists or interviewers can lead people to relax to the point where little thought is put into what is being posted or broadcast.

The problem is compounded by the ability of these networks to go “viral” and send the information rapidly to hundreds if not millions of people. Journalists are also using sites like Facebook for research as hot issues arise.

While on Facebook, don’t think that limiting the number of people who can access your Facebook site is a safeguard – it’s NOT. Text and pictures can be copied in a moment and spread far and wide and you have no control over this.

There is one simple test for new and social media postings for you and your team.

Would you be happy to see your new and social media offerings on the front page of the newspaper or on the TV news?

If so, go ahead and hit send.

If not, think about it.

As my crabby old editor said more than 30 years ago – “If in doubt, leave out”.

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

Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 4

Volume 1, Edition 4 – 19 July 2011

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsKey Message Delivery

There have been some interesting shifts in the way we communicate through the media.

For those who are not aware of these changes, a media interview outcome can be very negative.

For instance, while it is still acceptable to repeat your key messages to get your points across in a media interview, don’t overdo it.

Here is an example of where it is totally overdone. It’s an interview with the British Opposition Leader, Ed Miliband:

You need to come across as genuine and honest – he clearly failed in this case.

Interview Transcript (Repetitive Key Message Delivery)

Ed Miliband and Damon Green – UK


Ed Miliband, British Labour Party Leader:

These strikes are wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on. But parents and the public have been let down by both sides because the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner. After today’s disruption I urge both sides to put aside the rhetoric , get around the negotiating table and stop it happening again.

Damon Green, ITV News Correspondent:

Um, I listened to your speech in [inaudible] and you talked about the Labour Party being a movement. A lot of people in that movement, uh, are the people who are on strike today and they’ll be looking at you and thinking… “Well, you’re describing these strikes as wrong, why aren’t you giving us more leadership as a leader of the labour movement?”

Ed Miliband, British Labour Party Leader:

At a time when negotiations are still going on, I do believe these strikes are wrong. And that’s why I say both sides should, after today’s disruptions, get around the negotiating table, put aside the rhetoric, and sort the problem out. Because the public and parents have been let down by both sides and the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner.

Damon Green, ITV News Correspondent:

I spoke to Francis Maude before I came here and the tone he was striking was a very conciliatory one. Do you think there’s a difference between the words they’re saying in pubic and the attitude they strike in private in these negotiations? Are their negotiations in good faith would you say?

Ed Miliband, British Labour Party Leader:

What I say is the strikes are wrong when the negotiations are still going on. But the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner in the way it’s gone about these issues. After today’s disruption I urge both sides to get around the negotiating table, put aside the rhetoric, and stop this kind of thing happening again.

Damon Green, ITV News Correspondent:

Um, it’s a statement you’ve made publicly and you’ve made to me and this will be broadcast obviously. But have you spoken privately to any union leaders and expressed your view to them on a personal level, would you say?

Ed Miliband, British Labour Party Leader:

Well, what I say in public and in private to anybody involved in this is; get around the negotiating table, put aside the rhetoric, and stop this kind of action happening again. These strikes are wrong because negotiations are still going on. But parents and the public have been let down by the government as well who’ve acted in a reckless and provocative manner.

Damon Green, ITV News Correspondent:

You’re a parent, I’m a parent, alot of people who are watching this will be parents. Um, has it affected you personally this action? Has it affected your family and friends I mean and what is the net effect of that going to be on parents needing to take a day off work today?

Ed Miliband, British Labour Party Leader:

I think parents up and down the country have been affected by this action and it’s wrong at a time when negotiations are still going on. Parents have been let down by both sides because the government has acted in a reckless and provocative manner. I think that both sides, after today’s disruption, should get around the negotiating table, put aside the rhetoric and stop this kind of thing happening again.

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

Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 5

Volume 1, Edition 5 – 21 July 2011

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsRupert Murdoch – Crisis Media Communications

A great deal has been written about what Rupert and James Murdoch said before yesterday’s Commons Media Committee, but little has been said about their appearance.

While their attire was fine, we were unable to get a clear view of their eyes. This is a major negative, especially when television is involved and you are dealing with a crisis.

James Murdoch’s eyes were often partly obscured by the upper part of his glasses and Rupert Murdoch’s eyes were almost constantly covered by his glasses.

The public must be able to see your eyes, especially when you are trying to reassure people in a crisis.

Maybe the position of their glasses was the last thing on their minds, and yes the camera angle is partly to blame, but if you wear glasses while on TV make sure they are pushed well back so your eyes are clearly visible.

You can see how it looks in this report from the ABC’s 7.30 Report

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

Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 1 Edition 6

Volume 1, Edition 6 – 25 July 2011

Media Training – Is it a waste of money?

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsHaving spent 35 years as a journalist, now director of the specialist media training company Corporate Media Services, I read your article “Media Training really tells it like it isn’t“ with great interest.

The article by Leo D’Angelo Fisher starts by stating It’s the latest craze and everyone’s doing it: media training. Media training has become the latest must-have corporate fashion accessory.”

This may be a colourful way to begin a news item, but it is wrong. “Everyone’s doing it”? “Latest must-have corporate fashion accessory”? A small number of people from an organisation may be asked to do media training and I’ve never trained anyone who thinks it is a “must-have corporate fashion accessory.”

It’s almost as odd as his claim “Employees who undergo this “training” are so indiscriminately chosen that most are unlikely ever to face a journalist”. I run a business and deal with the business community on a daily basis. I’m yet to meet a media manager or training manager in any business or organisation who would waste money, from tight training budgets, to engage in pointless media training, or any pointless training for that matter.

Let’s be clear about this. There are basically two reasons why you would engage with the media. The first is to deliver information during a crisis. This is done to inform your media audiences about what you are doing to deal with the crisis, or what the public needs to do to assist. You also may need to protect your reputation. The second is to speak as an authority or expert, usually to project your company’s reputation or your own personal brand.

In short, media training should be framed to give participants the confidence to conduct a professional media interview in these situations. It should focus participants on the importance of delivering clear, concise and appropriate information. It should also discuss the importance of media deadlines and delivering this information in a timely manner.

There are other generalisations in the story. Mr D’Angelo Fisher says “The essence of much media training is that journalists are the enemy and the point of the training, in short, is schooling people in the art of evading journalists’ questions”, and “By the end of the day, the teams undergoing such training are convinced they can deal with any potential media firestorm”.

We are left trying to work out what exactly a media firestorm is, but we assume it is a situation where an organisation is the subject of intense media interest for some reason. Our company would never make such an extreme claim. Nor do we tell media training participants that journalists are the enemy or that people should evade journalist’s questions – quite the opposite. We encourage the building of a productive professional relationship with journalists.

Mr D’Angelo Fisher says “I have in years past taken the devil’s shilling and have conducted mock interviews for media trainers”. He says during these interviews, “harmless middle managers are treated like the worst corporate miscreants”. “The public affairs director of one company recalled putting some executives through a media training course conducted by a well-known television reporter from A Current Affair. During a no-holds-barred interview, one executive decided he could take no more and hurriedly left the room. The reporter chased after him yelling questions. As real-life scenarios go, it was pretty authentic: but what’s the point?”

I agree – what’s the point? That is not media training, that’s a circus. Who conducted this training? Did they have any training qualifications?

Competent media trainers respond to a brief that can include challenging the participants during interviews, but a fundamental of adult leaning is that any training needs to be delivered in an inclusive and supportive environment. Chasing people and yelling questions is not in that category. Mr D’Angelo Fisher would be wise to check the credentials and training protocols of media training organisations before offering his services for media training.

Mr DÁngelo Fisher claims, “Whatever media training is about, it’s not about improving the quality of exchanges between media and business”. Again he is wrong. Professional media training is totally about that.

Mr DÁngelo Fisher’s story fails to comply with one of the most basic rules of journalism – balance.

It appears Mr D’Angelo Fisher may have taken part in one or more unprofessional media training sessions, lifted some text from media training websites, then without interviewing any current qualified media trainers, proceeded to malign the entire industry – disappointing in a week when the media industry worldwide was under enormous scrutiny over standards.

Yes, in our experience there is an increased call for media training. Our clients tell us this is because they want their media training participants to understand why they need to deliver concise, clear, jargon free and acronym free comments to journalists, who are generally faced with deadline pressures. Our clients also tell us they are very concerned about the increase in inaccurate news items written by sloppy, unprofessional, unethical reporters who do no or little research and seem more interested in pushing their own agenda and creating sensationalism than reporting facts that are in the public interest.

I am a journalist who has formulated and conducted more than 1500 media training programs in Australia and the South Pacific. Mr DÁngelo Fisher’s story was unbalanced, inaccurate and full of generalisations. It falls well short of the high standards of the Australian Financial Review.

Doug Weller is Founder and Director of Corporate Media Services. His journalism roles have included reporting, presenting and editing positions for ABC radio and TV, in both Australia and Washington D.C. His teaching qualifications include seven years lecturing at the RMIT University School of Journalism. He holds a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment.

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

Corporate Media Services e-Bulletins

Volume 2 Edition 1

Volume 2 Edition 1 – 21 February 2012

Gillard and Rudd need to stick to the basics of media communication

Corporate Media Services e-BulletinsBoth Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd have one thing in common this week – both are having to deal with the mess they created after failing to follow basic rules of media communication.

Julia Gillard is being seen as ‘evasive’ after her now infamous interview on Four Corners.

See Julia Gillard’s interview on Four Corners

Julia Gillard’s performance proves that the days of avoiding questions or ‘blocking’ are over.

Kevin Rudd is dealing with the aftermath of his ‘Rudd Rage’ video. Rudd has again reminded us that microphones and cameras are always live.

See Kevin Rudd swearing video

Never say anything in a media or recording environment that you don’t want reproduced in the media world, no matter how secure the environment.

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