Nailing Your Crisis Media Conference with Doug Weller Corporate Media Services

Nailing Your Crisis Media Conference with Doug Weller

Date: 18 November 2021

Format: Online Webinar

Presenter: Doug Weller

LinkedIn Registered Guests:

Video Recording on YouTube: Nailing Your Crisis Media Conference with Doug Weller from Corporate Media Services (and below)

PowerPoint Slides: Nailing Your Crisis Media Conference with Doug Weller from Corporate Media Services (and below)

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Webinar Transcript

Hello and welcome to our webinar today – Nailing your Crisis Media Conference. My name is Doug Weller, I am the Director of Corporate Media Services and I’ll be your host, your facilitator today. Just some housekeeping before we start. I’ll be going between some slides and also some video clips today. I won’t go full screen with the slides today as I find when I go full screen in our media training sessions, then I go into those video clips sometimes it can actually freeze the system so the slides will be almost full screen today. Everybody will be able to see them okay. You’ll see the slides off to one side and the video clips are off to the other side. OK let me share the screen

I’d like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today. I’d also like to pay my respects to elders past present and emerging

So Nailing Your Crisis Media Conference. I’ll have a presentation first up and then I’ve got time for some questions at the end. I’ll be using the COVID-19 media conferences as examples today. We’ve seen these media conferences being rolled out on a daily basis over the last 20 months and there’s a lot we can learn from these media conferences. After today perhaps review one of these media conferences or a couple of them – sit down with your leadership team and see what sort of processes you could take away from this to roll into your particular situation. When you’ve got a crisis, and every media situation is different, always seek professional communications and legal advice before dealing with journalists and the media your communications people your your media people and your lawyers will keep you safe you need to be absolutely firm and clear and confident about the messages you are delivering in a crisis situation and your lawyers and your Comms people will get you to the right spot.

OK about your facilitator today – so I’ve been involved in the media industry for more than four decades – kicked off as a cadet in commercial radio and TV. After that I went to the ABC – I was at the ABC for 13 years. While I was at the ABC I was posted to Washington where I was the ABC’s Washington Correspondent where I covered the White House, the State Department and of course, The Pentagon and other issues in America at the time. Came back to Australia and was posted to the Canberra press gallery after that went to Melbourne where I fronted the first morning TV news and current affairs program called First Edition with the wonderful Kate Dunstan after the ABC I went to RMIT University in Melbourne whereI lectured in TV Journalism and after eight years I left RMIT to start up this company Corporate Media Services and what a great segway into talking about Corporate Media Services.

So we run training courses throughout Australia and the South Pacific – Media Spokesperson training – getting people to the right spot so they can talk definitely and proudly of their positive media situations and also dealing with those tough issues as they come along. Executive Media Training where we step it up a little because Executives do come up against tougher issues. Crisis Media Communications training and that’s part of what we’re talking about today – Nailing your Crisis Media Conference. We also run Presentation Skills training and Public Speaking training. Our courses are customized – they have to be customised – every situation is different for every client and they are highly interactive so we get people up very quickly in front of the cameras – in front of recorders doing the interviews, replaying, unpacking, giving feedback. So more than 80% of our courses are interactive where people are really moving through those interview processes because that’s where the learning happens with adults.

All right – you need a plan – you need a strategy obviously when you’re dealing with a crisis situation. If you have a crisis so serious that media turns up generally unannounced in the car park at the front gate and all of a sudden – do you go out and front the media in that particular situation? So what you need to do is do most of the work now – most of the planning now so you formulate a strategy – you formulate a plan and part of that really crucial is your Crisis Communications Team. Who is going to be the the team on the day that’s going to assist you in this particular situation. That needs to be established now. Look at those likely incidents that could occur in your organization. Every organisation is different. You would know the top three, six, ten things that could go wrong in your organisation which would mean, so serious, would mean media turning up in the car park, at the front door, at the front gate. Have a look at those incidents and start thinking about how you would respond to that. Start thinking about the messages you would deliver in a situation like that and do as much work as you possibly can now.

So as I say there – anticipate questions, prepare your messages and your holding statements now the best you can. On the day you might need to adjust them and that’s absolutely fine but do as much work as you possibly can now – sitting down with your leadership team, your communications people, your lawyers, so everybody has done a lot of work on those messages before you actually have to go into the situation to prepare quickly for this crisis media conference. Prepare your other communication channels now – social media – really important part of the process, not only in crisis communications, but in all communications. You’ll need a specialist social media team looking at those social media situations. Are you going to be releasing a statement through your social media situations? Is there going to be some activity as far as social media is concerned? Do you need to respond to that so social media obviously a very important part of the process and your social media specialists – your team members – they’ll be part of that crisis communications team, and also look at your other communication channels – your website, your various other communication situations.

Keep the media informed and who will take those media calls when they come in. Generally that’s going to be a communications person, a media person within your organisation. If you don’t have a communications or media person, decide now who will take those calls. You need to keep the media informed. Are you just releasing a statement or are you going to be fronting the media that’s gathering outside? You need to let the media know exactly what is going on. Unexpected door stop protocols – making sure that people understand what to do if they are approached by media as they roll up to your site or as they they come up to to work in the car park. I had an executive say to me once what would I do if all of a sudden there’s a crisis within my organization – Ii get to the car park and media swarm me? Well that’s quite simple you act in a very calm and professional way. You don’t give any comment, you direct the the media to the comms person, or you go inside and tell the comms person could they please come out and deal with the media. But everybody needs to know exactly what to do. Is your spokesperson trained and do you have backup and you’re probably thinking, well Doug you’re a media trainer of course you’re going to say that, but really I think you need about three or four, possibly five people who are ready to roll in a situation like this. The boss may not be there. He or she might be overseas – second in charge may not be there – you may have some situation where the third person is unable to do it, so you need a team of people who are ready to roll. Yes you’ll have your primary spokes people but you’ll really need a backup to make sure that you have people who are ready to roll on on a day when they have to go out and front a crisis media conference.

Pick a safe media point this is really important making sure that you find a quiet safe area, generally outside so your media spokesperson can walk out of the building, up to the media, deliver the messages and when they decide it’s time to go – we’ve decided beforehand when it’s time to go – retreat to the building. I faced a situation years ago when I went to a press conference like this. Everything was well organised. The communication processes were good. The media was being told what was going on. The spokesperson came out – everything was fine but it he walked up to the media and the sun was in his eyes and that caused him a great deal of difficulty in terms of delivering those messages. So everything else was organised but the sun was in this person’s eyes and that caused a problem. Still went through the media conference situation but you could see this person was very uncomfortable. So you’ve really got to think about these media points and making sure that they are nice and safe and comfortable for the spokesperson.

How long will the spokesperson stay? Are you simply going to deliver a statement and then the spokesperson makes an exit? Are you going to have a situation where you’ll deliver a statement and then take a few questions? Sometimes people walk out and they simply take questions. This all needs to be decided by the Crisis Communications Team beforehand so the spokesperson on the day – she or he knows exactly what they need to do in any given situation. It’s not a case of going out and thinking we’ll see how this goes. It needs to follow a very very definite plan all worked out before the spokesperson comes out and delivers the messages to the media. You need to have your spokespeople in a situation where they’re really clear in terms of what they need to do you – need to have their confidence high and their fear low. It’s very hard going out and walking up to a whole bunch of journos and and delivering messages or reading a statement, so you need to have your spokesperson empowered so their confidence is high and their fear is low and that’s the spokesperson having an understanding of a very clear plan in terms of dealing with this very difficult situation.

Seamless entry and exit – very important that you don’t have your spokespeople battling through the media scrum to get to the front, and battling through the media to get back out of the room. You will not see, nor should you see, with the crisis media conferences at COVID-19 media conferences, you will not see Premiers, senior health officials, anybody battling through the media to get to the to the front of the room and battling back out as as they leave. It’s going to be a seamless process entry and exit and I want to show you some examples now. OK let’s have a look at New South Wales

So I’ll just stop it there to make a point. You see the Premier is coming out. It’s going to be a clear entry then a clear exit. He’s waiting for his team to come out and stand behind him. He’s not in a hurry. Big mistake people make in these situations – they come out and they start delivering messages from around about three meters away from the microphones – no – there is no rush. He comes out he stands there, has a final look at his notes and wait for his team to gather behind him.

“Well good morning everyone – it’s great to be here with half the cabinet” OK and then he starts. So let’s have a look a similar situation in Queensland and you’ll see Annastacia Palaszczuk coming out, the team following her out and you can see where where she enters the room and that’s where she will exit the room.

“All right good afternoon everybody. OK good afternoon Queensland”

And then away we go. So clear entry clear/exit. Let’s have a look at Daniel Andrews and there’s something that Daniel Andrews does in addition here which I want to speak about.

“Everyone right to go?” okay okay I’ll just play that again “everyone right to go”

All right so sometimes people say this, sometimes they don’t. It’s not a mistake if you don’t say it but i think it’s a very good thing to do. You’ve got a lot of journalists there, you’ve got a lot of equipment and sometimes things go wrong and when somebody says “is everybody right to go” sometimes they’re not and it allows the the journalist or the camera person to say “oh no can you just hold on a few a few moment we have to fix an issue that we’ve got” You want to make sure that everybody is right to go. The media wants to make sure they’re getting all your messages and if you’re going out to front a media conference you want to make sure that you’re getting your messages across to absolutely everybody so by saying is everybody right to go, it’s courteous and you don’t get too many courteous moments as a journal or a camera person on the road so i think it’s a courteous thing to do. But it also has sent a message to me as a journalist when this has happened that this person is very confident in the space they know what they’re doing in terms of the media and so it sends a really good message. So don’t be afraid to walk out and say is everybody right to go – gives you a bit more time to actually get settled and then away you go. It’s not a mistake if you don’t do it, but I think it’s a very good addition to the process. But the what I was trying to get across in those three clips – clear entry clear exit – nobody’s in a hurry – everybody’s getting getting settled and then away we go.

So I’ll just share the screen again. Your audience. The all-important audience. Use the media to deliver your messages to your audience and identify your internal and external audiences now because once you’ve worked that out then you can start looking at the wording as far as your messages are concerned. You want to make sure that those messages are connecting with the audience you are after and we all have different audiences and you know who your audience is going to be – various stakeholders, government organisations, business groups, staff, family, local residents. So think think now about the audience and then start pulling those messages together.

The messages – the all-important messages. So get on the front foot quickly now. There’s a lot of research out there – some people say you’ve got 15 minutes to get messages out in a crisis – some people say you’ve got half an hour or an hour. What you need to do is try to get your messages out as quickly as possible to get on the front foot as quickly as possible, but you don’t send your spokesperson out to front of media conference until they are absolutely ready to go. So the whole idea pulling together as much as you possibly can beforehand allows you to get out there quickly. But you only send a spokesperson out. You only send your messages out – your statements – out when you’re absolutely happy with those statements – those messages and the spokesperson is feeling absolutely empowered.

So what are you going to do in terms of messages? Confirm the incident – I mean what do we want when we roll up to a situation like this as far as media is concerned? We want confirmation what actually happened. Journalists will be chasing the who, what, when, where, why, how – well you may not have all of that information but hopefully you can actually confirm what’s actually occurred when you start delivering the messages. Empathy first and every single time. You may need to offer condolences – hopefully you won’t. You will have seen with the covert 19 media conferences, every single time because unfortunately peaceful people are passing away from COVID, condolences at the beginning of the media conference and this is absolutely and totally appropriate. Then clear concise jargon free messages or a statement – honest transparent and genuine. So I want to show you this example from South Australia. This is the Senior Health Officer Professor Nicola Spurrier coming out on a day – very tough day. South Australia are about to go into a lock down but really clear about the messages. Really clear in terms of delivering those messages and doing it in a very definite way and the Professor paints a picture so we all understand very clearly what we need to do in terms of the situation on this day so let me let me play this one:

‘Thank you and good morning. Yes a worrying situation here in
South Australia and just to reiterate the really important point for people who are watching this press conference. This is the time to stay put. This is the time not to move around. The virus doesn’t have legs. It moves around when people move around. So if we stay put the virus will stop and we’ll be able to get on top of it. So that’s really one of my my main messages today and the second is – if you’ve got any symptoms whatsoever go and get tested because that’s how we’re going to be able to know if the virus is spreading’

OK so what I love about that – clear, definite paints a picture – the virus doesn’t have legs – it moves around when people move around. ‘This is my major message here today’ and really if that’s the only thing that is used in terms of a grab or a sound bite or a quote – if it’s not going out live most media situations are going to be quotes grabs and sound bites – if that’s the only things it’s used – that’s a wonderful use of media. So that’s what I mean in terms of clear concise understandable messages. I’ve got some other messages here that people might like to consider when they’re dealing with these very tough situations. These are messages that I’ve pulled together over the last 18 months or so when I’ve been helping clients deal with crisis situations involving COVID many times. So confirmation that the incident has occurred, expressing empathy, concern for those people who have been impacted. Working with, and taking direction from the authorities – if it’s a covert situation from the Health Department um constantly in touch with the authorities or with the Health Department to make sure that we’re following the appropriate protocols. Keeping everybody informed the best we can and finding out what’s actually occurred so we can rectify the situation to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. So that’s a set of messages that you can possibly look at when you’re looking at messages that you would want to deliver in these very difficult situations. But again every situation is different. Every crisis situation is different. Your messages are going to be different but that might just be a good starting point. OK let me go and share the screen again.

So don’t get involved with hypotheticals and don’t speculate, even if journalists are trying to draw you into that space. You are – you are very clear on the messages that you are going to be delivering. You’re following the plan that you’ve worked out with your your team and you do not get into hypotheticals or speculation and you certainly don’t go off the record. If somebody asks you an off the record – a question at the end of the media conference – no – everything needs to be on the record. So as I say there – control and deliver the message then stop. The grab, the sound bite, the quote, whatever you want to call it, so deliver it and then stop. So you need to go through an out-loud rehearsal. As I say down the bottom there with your team beforehand – to get you to that point where you’re delivering those clear concise messages, delivering the message then stopping because confidence is the key in all of this. Most of the people we have in our Media Training, our Crisis Media Training courses – they’re leaders in their particular area they’re experts in their particular area. They’ve got good communication skills. It’s a case of getting them to the point where they need to be, to deliver these messages in this very difficult crisis media situation. And I’ve got there – ‘own your words’. Journalists from any situation – in any situation, will toss words at you and if you toss them back – you own them. You take ownership of those words. Now if it’s a live interview, that’s OK. People hear these things in context – if it’s not we don’t hear the journalist’s question, or see the journalists question – all of a sudden you’ve taken ownership of that particular word and you may not actually want to do that so making sure that you’re delivering your words – not words that have been tossed at you in the the heat of the the crisis media conference

So this is a process which is used around the world. Emergency services organisations often use this when they’re pulling together messages, and it’s a great. What I call four-point message guide. This is what we know, this is what we don’t know, this is what we’re doing and this is what we want you to do – a call to action. So you won’t get a question from a journalist – do I have a call to action today – you need to take yourself to that call to action and that is the bridging process. Using what we call bridging phrases so at some stage in that media conference, if you have a call to action you need to take yourself there. Look can I just say this, could I just add this one thing I’d like to ask of the residents, one thing I’d like to ask of the of the public – it’s a call to action. And we often see calls to action with emergency organisations when they have an incident. And we’ve had endless calls to action over the last 20 months with these COVID-19 media conferences start it off with washing our hands, don’t touch your face, stay at home, social distancing and then follow the rules. We’ve got restrictions in place – follow the rules and what are we getting now – get vaccinated – get vaccinated – get vaccinated – these are calls to action. You don’t have to have a call to action when you’re pulling together the messages but you can deliver a call to action. But a journalist isn’t going to ask you do you have a ‘call to action’ you need to be in a good head space to be able to just roll that out and take control of that particular situation.

All right looking the part this is, in a lot of ways, common sense. But it’s something that people actually forget on the day. People are so focused on the messages – they’re so focused on looking at the media outside and feeling a bit uptight about that – lots of conversations going on – doing the out loud rehearsals and sometimes they just forget that the collar’s not quite right or the jacket’s not quite right so it’s a pretty easy fix. You simply turn around to your communications team or the communications team gets the spokesperson before they go out and just goes okay, yep this is all this is all good – this is appropriate or you go to the bathroom and you have a look in the mirror to make sure everything is nice and neat and tidy. People say well what should I actually be wearing in a situation like this? You decide on the day. What we’ve been seeing with the COVID media conferences – everything from plain business attire through to smart casual – all of it’s been appropriate. Should you wear a high visibility vest if the situation calls for a high vis vest? Safety gear – absolutely, but making sure that you take advice on that because you don’t want to be wearing a high vis vest that’s not appropriate. Try to avoid transition glasses and definitely no sunglasses. I’ve had a number of communications people say to me over the last 12 months why does the U.S President Joe Biden wear sunglasses when he’s speaking to the media and I have absolutely no idea. I’ve read a couple of articles which said that he likes his sunglasses – it’s not a good look so try to avoid those transition glasses and definitely no sunglasses.

OK the media conference. So the spokesperson must calm themselves before going out and there’s a range of ways that people do this. Sometimes people get all the messages together – they’ve done the out loud rehearsals – they’re feeling fine – they’ll go outside, stand in the sun for a little bit. I’ve seen people go into a room where they put all the messages out in front of them on the on the carpet and they just look at them for a few minutes to absorb all of that information. So just calm yourself beforehand, being absolutely clear about the messages that you are going to deliver and then you arrive with authority. And I showed you those examples a little earlier. Deliver your messages and deliver them well and that’s what we saw with the Professor earlier. The major issue at the moment is be very firm about delivering those messages, making sure that you are telling the audience, if it’s going live, what those major messages are. And you’re telling the journalists that are there these are the major messages, and if journalists understand the major messages on the day that’s probably what they’re going to run. As far as quotes grabs and sound bites, if you don’t know the answer – be honest. One of the most refreshing things to come out of these COVID-19 media conferences is that when when a Premier or a health official, or a Health Minister doesn’t know the information, doesn’t know the answer to the question, they’re completely honest about it – ‘Look I’m not sure about that – that’s a good question we’ll get back to you on that – what I can tell you, what I can say, what I can put across’ So don’t feel as though you need to know absolutely everything about everything especially in the early part of a crisis situation. Just be honest and upfront – ‘Look I don’t know about that – we will find out about that, but what I can tell you, what I can offer you’ Correct any misinformation that’s floating out there on, you know, on radio or in social media. Again journalists won’t ask you would you like to correct any misinformation – you need to take yourself there. The spokesperson needs to be empowered to go to that point ‘Look I’d like to actually correct some misinformation that is out there on social media’ and then away you go. Maintaining solid eye contact, and I’ll come back to that. And then you need to depart with authority. Let me show you this example from Tasmania of a nice definite departure situation – ‘Information they provide us with, I think the evidence of how they’ve been prepared to cooperate with us is very clear for everyone to see and that cooperation hasn’t been forthcoming’

So there you go, so nice definite exit, clear entry, clear exit – you’ll see it every single time with these COVID media conferences and that’s exactly how it should actually happen. As far as the eye contact is concerned, it’s important that we see you looking at a journalist or looking at all of the the journalists. People who deal with media a lot, so senior business people, politicians, sometimes they will actually come out and say once they’ve said ‘is everybody right to go’, then they’ll say ‘where would you like me to look’ and what journalists will do, they’ll say can you look at that person in the middle and that’ll allow all of the cameras to get a good look at the front of you. So this is sometimes a bit difficult if you don’t do it a lot. What some people do they they actually get one of their team just stand behind that journalist so the spokesperson has a friendly face to look at – not suggesting for a moment that journalists aren’t friendly, but that’s what they do. But again this is this is something that happens when people deal with the media a lot. I think it’s a hard thing to do if you don’t do a lot of media so my recommendation is just look at the journalist who is asking you that question and engage with that journalist or look around at all of the journalists and you’ll see this with the COVID media conferences. They’re either looking straight at the journalist asking the question quite often, or they’re looking around the room. Just one final issue with all of this, just to make it a little bit more complex – if you are actually looking at the journalist and dealing with that particular journalist, and the journalist over there has asked a question and looking that way, the TV cameras won’t be able to get your face over here. They’ll get the back of your head and that doesn’t work for TV situations. So you may find a journalist, once you’ve answered that question, a journalist over here saying oh could you answer that again, or they’ll ask a similar question to get you to look that way, to deliver the message that way, and that’s absolutely fine – just just repeat the message.

All right some final points. Remove the phone. You don’t need your phone going off obviously in the middle of a media conference – especially a crisis media conference. Don’t confuse the message. Make sure the messages are as clear and understandable as possible. We’ve seen some confusion with the messages with the COVID situation making sure that you’re not confusing the messages.

Don’t deliver throw away lines as you walk away. Some people relax at the end of their media conference and they have a joke. No, everything needs to be on message. You need to be professional at all times. Don’t get annoyed with the journalists. Sometimes people get uptight in these situations and they feel that they’re not very happy with a journalist and they get into an argument. Don’t – you are there to calmly and professionally deliver appropriate messages for your audience in every media situation especially with a crisis media conference

Pick your background. This is very important you want to make sure that you have a good solid background. This rolls back into what we were discussing earlier as far as the media point is concerned – making sure that the background is going to be appropriate. Don’t allow the media to choose the background for you. Make sure your communications people choose that, the crisis communications team, or the spokesperson – making sure that you are very happy with that background.

Should I update or conduct a one-on-one interview later? Well you decide. There are different strategies and different skills when you’re dealing with a one-on-one interview situation. You just can’t make an exit in those situations as you can in the early stages of a crisis situation. So making sure that you are very very clear on what is needed to do a professional one-on-one interview. But again decide on the day – monitor the media coverage – whether it’s going to be traditional media, whether it’s going to be social media – it’s very important that you know what’s going on out there and so this might be having a lot of people keeping across radio, keeping across digital situations, online situations, keeping across TV. You want to know how your situation is being reported and you want to know what sort of quotes and grabs are being used in that particular situation. So pull together a team that’s able to actually monitor various radio stations, TV stations and of course, you’ll have your social media people doing the monitoring there.

And it’s a partnership. I honestly see this as a partnership – between the organisation and the media that is there in that very difficult situation. Tt’s a partnership in terms of getting the messages out there. Media want to gain those messages from you, send those messages out to the audiences and you do actually want to do the same thing, but it’s like any partnership – you need to be careful, you need to be focused, you need to make sure that you are looking after your best interest. So try and work in with the media but at all times making sure that you are gaining what you want from this partnership situation

So the bottom line in all of this, start your planning now. Pull together that crisis communications team, have a look at the incidents that could possibly occur, start to have a look at the messages you could deliver in in any given situation and do as much work as you can possibly do now because you want your spokesperson to go out looking professional, sounding professional. Stay on message and remaining calm because that’s what it is all about. Taking advantage of these this huge media contingent that’s turned up on this day, taking advantage of that to get the messages out to the audience you are after and the planning is absolutely crucial

All right before we wrap up if you’d like to connect with us we have our web page there we’re involved in social media, LinkedIn and and elsewhere

And if you’d like to leave a review thank you – very very happy for you to leave a review. We will have another webinar earlier in 2022 not sure about the topic we’re just trying to work out that at the at the moment

So I sincerely hope that you don’t have to use any of these processes that we’re talking about today. I sincerely hope you don’t have to face a crisis media conference, but if you do, hopefully we’ve given you an idea of how you need to prepare for these very difficult situations. I do hope all of your media moments are happy ones and hopefully today we’ve given you some strategies to deal with and Nailing Your Crisis Media Conference

The Great Face Off – The Day Social Media Became Antisocial

By Doug Weller

On 18 February 2021, Facebook pulled the plug.

Australian Facebookers woke to find they could not access or share Australian news via Facebook.

Unfortunately, organisations including some government departments, charities, community sites and others were bundled into the ‘news’ category and were also blocked.

News consumers could still access news directly in other ways, such as via the news organisation’s websites.

The solution for others – especially many community Facebook sites – wasn’t as easy.

Some of these organisations rely purely on their Facebook site to connect with their clients and audiences.

The stoush was all over the Australian Government’s proposed media laws forcing Facebook to pay for Australian news content shared on that platform.

Facebook said, “The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content. It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia. With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

The bunfight was resolved a week later.

In the meantime, Facebook apologised for the situation, claiming the impact on government departments, charities and community sites etc was an unintended consequence of the news ban.

It moved to restore the ‘non media‘ sites, but some were blocked for hours or days.

For those organisations which over the past 17 years have slowly built their communications with customers and clients exclusively via their Facebook sites, it was all quite a shock.

Suddenly they realised that there was no Plan B. No Facebook, no connection.

People who needed their services had nowhere to turn.

Plan B

So, what should a Plan B look like?

A website, where you have a lot more control, is a good start – but it can be expensive to setup and maintain.

Direct mail is also good, but again very costly.

Have a presence on more than one social media site and ensure your customers and clients know their options if one site is blocked or not accessible.

A database of phone numbers is a great backup so you can quickly text or call clients and customers and direct them to a phone number or email.

It is also very important to have a copy of the material you post on social media sites. Can you access your material, information and messages if that site goes down?

The Facebook ban highlighted the danger of relying solely on one social media platform to reach your target audience.

The disruption was short-lived. That was no consolation for those who urgently needed help from organisations, such those that provide help from domestic violence when the site was down.

Without even really noticing it, we have handed enormous power to Facebook and other social media platforms.

Some organisations have become too reliant on them, basing their audience communications around ‘free’ social media sites.

Social media is a great way to connect, but you must have a Plan B in place if the platform, intentionally or not, pulls the plug.

Make sure your audience can access your services and receive your messages if your main social media platform is not available.

Fortunately, the Australian Government and Facebook found a resolution in this case.

But what about next time?

Have your Plan B ready to roll and test it to make sure it works.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is general. It is not a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

To get the most from your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our training programs and media consultancy services.

All Corporate Media Services training courses can be conducted online.

For information and bookings please call 1300 737 913 or Director, Doug Weller 0412 298 905.


Facebook’s botched Australia news ban hits health departments, charities and its own pages

Facebook to ban Australian users from sharing news content

Facebook agrees to reverse news ban on Australian sites after striking deal with federal government (

Media Interviews COVID-19 Style

By Doug Weller

COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on us all.

It will change the way we do many things and the TV News and Current Affairs industry is no exception.

Computer-based TV news interviews from homes, cars and even the backyard have skyrocketed since the pandemic began – a trend that will probably continue after COVID-19 has hopefully drifted from our lives.

Editors love it – it’s easy for TV networks to conduct interviews online rather than send a TV cameraperson, reporter and sometimes a producer into the field.

But there’s a problem for interviewees who have not yet grasped the basics when it comes to performing well in an interview via a computer, tablet or phone.

Issues which are easily fixed are being overlooked and these issues are negatively influencing the interview’s message delivery and overall impact.

You need to sound and look professional – your surroundings need to be sharp.

Many people look like they’ve just fallen out of bed in their home interviews. In fact, sometimes the bed is in the background.

Get your interviews right using this checklist:

Test your equipment

Prior to your interview, make sure your computer or phone microphone and camera are functional. Do this well before the interview so you have time to fix any problems. If possible, have a backup device ready.

If you share the internet, try to ensure that no-one else is using bandwidth when you are broadcasting. Pixelated pictures, voice delays, syncing issues or buffering are problems you want to avoid.


Ensure you are well lit – from the front. No need to overdo it but we need to see you clearly.

Avoid bright lights or sunshine behind you. The camera will focus on the brightness which can be off-putting and flatten or washout your image.

What to wear

An American TV Reporter was caught out in an interview from home looking professional above the belt but very casual below the belt. If you want your message remembered for the right reasons, dress professionally top to toe.

That may be a suit, a uniform, a top with your branding or a high visibility jacket. You decide how you want to be viewed. What visual message do you want to send?

You need to dress appropriately for computer-based interviews in the same way you would if a TV camera crew came to your office or your home.

Where to look

Know where to look during these media interviews. Don’t look up, down or all around the room. That can distract viewers or make you look evasive or unsure of yourself.

When you’re conducting a TV interview via computer, you need to look directly at the computer camera lens.
If you are not sure on the day, ask the journalist or producer at the other end.

When using a laptop, make sure it is located correctly. If it’s placed low on a desk or table you will be looking down at the camera, giving your audience a view straight up your nose, not to mention the top of your cluttered cupboards, the lights or ceiling.

Lower or raise your seat or computer to allow you to look directly at the computer camera – the lens needs to be level with your eyes.


This is a biggie.

Your audience needs to stay focussed on your message, not what they can see behind you. Crooked photos, clutter, and pets can be a problem. So can gate-crashing family members, as this politician, health policy expert and even Jimmy Fallon found out the hard way.

A chaotic backdrop or unannounced distractions can derail audience attention and your message. Worse – you could go viral for all the wrong reasons!

Avoid virtual backgrounds or electronic background wallpapers. They do not usually reflect well in broadcast interviews.

Kids bursting into the room while you are going live can be funny and endearing, but what were those messages again?

Make it personal

Make sure you write down the name of the person interviewing you. Don’t rely on memory.

If you are on a panel, note down the names of all the speakers. It can sound awkward to say, “I agree with the previous speaker” when you could say “I agree with what Mary just said…”.


If you are providing expert opinion on a serious issue from your home, a barking dog or screeching cockatoo does not enhance your credibility.

You need a quiet room with the door closed. A sign on the door warning “Media interview underway – please stay out”, can help avoid interruptions.

Switch your phone to silent and try to have someone there to look after the kids and your furry friends.

Check email or other messaging apps are not running on your PC or device when you are broadcasting so that message or email alerts aren’t distracting.


Professionally conducting your computer or phone-based interviews from home will maintain your credibility and maximise message impact.

If you have an opportunity, test your set up with a colleague, journalist, producer or media training organisation.

Getting this right the first time may improve your chances for future media interview requests.


• Always test equipment is working prior to your interview 
• Check essential lighting
• Make sure the camera height is set level with your eyes
• Dress appropriately
• Backgrounds should be tidy and uncluttered
• Avoid potential distractions such as noise, phones and as much as we love them, the children and pets.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is general. It is not a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

To get the most from your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our training programs and media consultancy services.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all Corporate Media Services training courses can be conducted online.

For information and bookings please call 1300 737 913 or Director, Doug Weller 0412 298905.

COVID-19 A Plague of Mixed Messages

By Doug Weller

Not since the Spanish Flu, has the world experienced such an extreme health crisis as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Large-scale crises over the past 100 years have shaken the world. We’ve faced wars, terrorist attacks, stock market crashes, recessions, revolutions, nuclear and natural disasters. Now we face the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and it’s horrendous health and financial consequences.

Mixed messages have confused the public

Online traffic seeking Covid-19 updates has surged as global leaders use the media to reach their target audiences.

Unfortunately, mixed messages have caused uncertainty. People receiving a flood of confusing and conflicting information have acted based on their own interpretations. This meant some were following guidelines, others weren’t.

The last thing you need in a crisis is mixed messages. During the Covid-19 pandemic, mixed message examples are endless.

President Trump contradicted health advice

As worldwide debate persisted about the value of wearing face masks, the US government updated its guidelines.

The government recommended people should be “wearing cloth face coverings in public settings”. But President Donald Trump contradicted that advice, announcing it was voluntary and saying, “You do not have to do it…I don’t think I’m going to be doing it”.

So the message is…?

School messages confused parents

In some cases, mixed messaging has been understandable. Australian schools are a good example.

Schools across the country have delivered various messages because of their different situations and jurisdictions.

Some schools closed while others remained open.

The ABC’s Australian Story ‘One day at a time’, included these three back to back comments demonstrating mixed school messages:

Prime Minister Scott Morrison,
“Children should go to school tomorrow”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian,
“We will be encouraging parents to keep their children at home”

A parent,
“Should I listen to the principal here, or the Premier? The Prime Minister? Who?

Too many mixed messages confused parents.

Maybe the better message from spokespeople outside the schools would be, “Every school is different. All schools are in contact with their Education Departments. Contact your school and follow their recommendations.”

Social distancing messages were open to interpretation

The messages around ‘social distancing’ were initially unclear and not well managed, resulting in people making their own assumptions and acting accordingly.

When it was announced that no more than 500 people could gather in outdoor spaces and individuals must keep 1.5 metres apart, crowds still turned up to Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. Many beach goers carried on as normal and it became a global news story. To stop Covid-19 spreading, Bondi Beach closed.

Rules for other Australian beaches remained confusing.

Sydney Morning Herald Writer, Kasey Edwards, went for a stroll on a Melbourne beach after checking local guidelines. She was shocked when police approached her during her walk. They told her the beach was closed and she must leave.

Kasey said, “The messages from the different levels of government – even from within the same level of government — are so inconsistent and mind-bogglingly illogical, that even when you try to do the right thing you can’t. I will gladly do the right thing. I just need to know what it is.” She also stated, “if an adult can’t easily follow the hodgepodge, reactionary, contradictory and loop-hole-ridden advice, then how are we supposed to give clear rules to our kids?”

Self isolation guidelines confused doctors

Medical professionals arrived in Australia from a conference and failed to follow self-isolation guidelines.

The doctors later said that there was confusion at the airport. They believed they were following police instructions to go to their homes and self-isolate.

Economic stimulus information confused small business

There was misunderstanding about the Federal Government’s stimulus packages, including what is available and who can receive it.

The $130 billion Jobkeeper scheme is a good example.

The Prime Minister’s media release stated, “Eligible employers will be those with annual turnover of less than $1 billion who self-assess that have a reduction in revenue of 30 per cent or more, since 1 March 2020 over a minimum one-month period.”

What is ‘self-assess’? How does it work?

Which 1-month period?

The Jobkeeper criteria baffled small business, forcing the Government to clarify.

So, who is handling the Covid-19 crisis messaging well?

ABC health reporter Dr Normal Swan has been terrific when delivering clear information about this fast-moving story.

Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Brett Sutton’s concise understandable message delivery during the early stages of the crisis is another excellent example.

Australian immunologist, Peter Doherty, should get an award for explaining complex medical language in simple terms. He nails it in this article as he’s been doing since day one of this crisis.

Clarity and guidance are needed

The public and businesses around the world are relying on their governments and leaders for guidance during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The confusion media messages have caused during this crisis is an important reminder for communications professionals and leaders, to deliver clear messages from the outset.

So, what can we all learn about crisis messaging from Covid-19?

Prepare media messages before a crisis hits. The more prepared you are for a possible crisis, the better.

Create clear, concise media messages that you can easily adjust prior to release.

Where possible, try to remove the need for later clarification, even if it means delaying the initial release.

In a crisis like Covid-19 where everyone needs to understand instructions, ensure media messages are clear, concise and jargon free.

Test media messages on an audience outside your area of expertise. Do they understand? If not, adjust the messages.

Don’t risk losing your audience’s trust with mixed messages.

Remember that unclear media messages could hinder or destroy your desired outcome and damage your credibility.

Very important! Try to stick to one media spokesperson. If there is more than one, everyone needs to be delivering the same messages.

Information Only

Any information presented on our website is general. It is not a substitute for professional advice.

Further Assistance

To get the most from your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information about our training programs and media consultancy.

Due to Covid-19 restrictions, all Corporate Media Services training courses are currently conducted online.

For information and bookings please call 1300 737 913 or Director Doug Weller 0412 298905.

In Case You’re Wondering – Nothing’s Off-The-Record

Donald Trump’s former personal assistant learnt a brutal lesson about going off-the-record with journalists.

According to CNN, Madeleine Westerhout attended a dinner in New Jersey with Deputy White House Press Secretary, Hogan Gidley, and several reporters. These dinners are common and typically treated as off-the-record.

CNN says when Gidley left the room to attend to media commitments, Westerhout remained in the room with the reporters and divulged intimate details about Trumps family.

It was a career ending conversation.

What is off-the-record?

Off-the-record is common. It is often confused with background briefings which are an opportunity to give journalists background to a story or issue.

Background briefings can be very useful for both sides. They can help journalists understand complex issues, enabling them to hopefully write a more informed and accurate story.

Backgrounders, as they are called, can easily slip into an off-the-record discussion.

That’s the dangerous point for people who don’t understand the rules.

So, what is off-the-record?

Generally, it is information you are giving to a journalist which may benefit you and them. But usually the information is not to be used and certainly not attributed to you. It’s often used in politics to damage a rival.

But different journalists have different views of off-the-record.

Some may feel they can use off-the-record information to gain further details from another source. Some may believe they can use your comments but not your name.

You need to be absolutely sure of how a journalist interprets off-the-record and you must be certain that they will respect the off-the-record agreement.

Many people, such as some experienced media and communications professionals, use off-the-record with journalists they trust.

But with so many journalists and so many different off-the-record interpretations, our advice to media training participants is very clear – nothing is off-the-record.

Off-the-record comments can become the story

Regard anything you say after “hello” as quotable.

This rule was forgotten recently by someone who should know better; an airline spokesperson whose comments were included in a negative story.

Low cost airline, Flybe, should have been basking in positive media attention after The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton were passengers.

For most organisations, having the British Royal Family use your services is a golden PR ticket.

However, Prince Harry had just been criticised for flying on private jets after publicly declaring everyone should be lowering their carbon footprint.

Prince William travelling on a commercial flight therefore should have been a good news story for Flybe.

But instead, the airline faced a messy controversy surrounding carbon emissions.

The Daily Mail reported that ‘The 8.40am flight the royal party took from Norwich to Aberdeen…is normally operated by Scottish company Loganair on behalf of Eastern Airways, Flybe’s franchise partner.’

The spokesperson for Eastern Air, which manages the route, was questioned on why an empty Flybe aircraft was ferried in to replace the Loganair aircraft.

Flying in an empty plane to replace an existing plane, reportedly for Flybe brand promotion, is obviously far from environmentally friendly.

The spokesperson’s comments to the Daily Mail then became part of the story:

In an extraordinary conversation, Eastern Air spokesperson reportedly told the Daily Mail they were “completely unconcerned” what this newspaper was intending to publish, describing the scenario put to them as “immaterial, as long as all their passengers had a nice flight”. Asked repeatedly whether the spokesperson wanted to correct anything that had been put to the reporter, the answer was “no – write what you want to write”. The spokesman eventually said, after prompting, that they would provide a “one-line statement – for what it is worth”, but despite repeated requests to both Eastern and Flybe nothing was sent by the time of going to press.

Sometimes it’s media and PR officers who make major mistakes when speaking to journalists.

Under pressure, they can forget that basic rule – everything after “hello” is quotable.

It’s very easy to go off-the-record with journalists. But casual conversations that at the time don’t seem to be a big deal could become part of a story, or become the story itself.

Journalists work in a very competitive and fast-paced environment. When you are communicating with them you need to be on the ball from the word go.


Understand the difference between background briefings and off-the-record.

Be aware that if you say something flippant and it’s newsworthy, it could wind up on the front page.

Always remain professional.

Most importantly know the rules around off-the-record, what off-the-record actually means and how the journalist you are speaking with interprets it.

Leave the off-the-record game to experienced media people who understand it. If you’re not highly experienced at this game, nothing is off-the-record.

Regard everything after “hello” as quotable.

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 how to make the most of your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information on how our training programs or media consultancy can help you.


Airline bosses ‘flew an EMPTY aircraft 123 miles to Norfolk to pick up unwitting Prince William and Kate’

William and Kate spotted on budget £73 FlyBe flight following Harry and Meghan private jet controversy

‘I love Tiffany’: Donald Trump defends daughter after Madeleine Westerhout ousted from White House


I Really Do Care About Melania Trump’s Jacket Fiasco

By Doug Weller

The distressing humanitarian crisis over children separated from their illegal immigrant families, then held in a US Department of Human Services facility, made global headlines. But sadly, Melania Trump’s jacket made sure the headlines kept rolling.

The media coverage and public outrage over the humanitarian issue finally led to the policy being overturned when Donald Trump, in a rare move, admitted an error and flipped his decision regarding separating children and parents.

So, when Melania Trump set off to visit some of those displaced children in Texas, wearing a jacket emblazoned with ‘I really don’t care, do you?’, she left journalists and the public baffled.

The point of the trip was public relations – to show compassion. But the jacket and its message blew that to bits.

Mainstream media and social media erupted and “insensitive” was the message of the day.

The first lady’s spokesperson, Stephanie Grisham, was quick to clarify “It’s a jacket. There was no hidden message. After today’s important visit to Texas, I hope this isn’t what the media is going to choose to focus on.”

YES! That is absolutely what the media focused on!

If the first lady jets off on a goodwill mission, wearing a jacket literally stating that she doesn’t care, the media is going to go bonkers.

Of course, the story became all about Melania Trump’s jacket and the White House was left in damage control about its damage control mission.

Media is more than just messaging. It is more than just words. Location, backdrops, body language and even clothing matters.

Those non-verbal cues portray visual messages to your audience and should support your spoken message.

There’s plenty of research out there which says visuals are more important than words.

In this case, the message on Melania Trump’s jacket totally undermined the original intent.

Media messaging disasters happen.

People saying the wrong thing. Saying it in the wrong way. Standing in front of the wrong backdrop. Wearing the wrong clothes.

Most of the time it’s people who don’t understand the media who make these mistakes.

They front the media unprepared and miss the mark. Sometimes the personal and organisational reputation fallout is horrendous.

But when you’re the first lady of the United States, with a team of high powered media advisors, how does such a media disaster happen?

Media and communications professionals are paid to advise people on what to say and what to wear.

It’s almost impossible to comprehend that at least one of these very experienced media advisors, who walk the corridors of the White House, didn’t spot Melania Trump’s totally inappropriate jacket.

We saw the wife of the wealthy U.S. President, boarding the very expensive Air Force One, on a damage control mission visiting displaced immigrant children, wearing a jacket stating, ‘I really don’t care, do you?’

Perhaps the first lady simply didn’t think through her jacket choice. But any media officer, junior to executive, should have picked it up. Maybe they did but she didn’t listen.

What should have been a positive media event became a media train wreck. It completely undermined the event and the compassion message.

If you’re going to start dealing with the media, think about what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, where you’re saying it and what you’re wearing.

If you don’t know how to do that, find a competent media advisor who does and listen to their advice.

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 how Corporate Media Services’ training programs or media consultancy can help you make the most of your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information.

When a Crisis Hits – What to say and how to say it

By Doug Weller

Crisis communications planning should happen well before an organisational crisis occurs.

Schools, for example, face a myriad of headline grabbing issues on a regular basis.

Headlines about bullying, hazing and drugs are bad enough, but news of school shootings are now all too common.

When I’m reading and watching these news stories, obviously my heart goes out to the victims and others involved – but also, I can’t help but think about what’s going on for the reporters and the school as they deal with the situation, especially when kids have been injured or killed.

During a situation like this, the pressure on news editors to get information from journos on the ground is immense. That means the school is under pressure to make comment whilst dealing with an intense situation.

You can debate the ethics endlessly.

Should journalists be seeking comment from people under such difficult circumstances?

How do you report such a story and what photos and vision do you show?

But any shooting or incident involving injuries or death is a major news story.

It’s the job of a journalist to cover it the best they can.

As I watched the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, I thought of the teachers and students going about their day, only to have it shattered in a split second.

It would be chaos as emergency services arrive and parents rush to the scene, desperate for information. Adding to the bedlam media crews would be everywhere.

During the Florida incident, and similar incidents, the school would have media wanting comment from staff who probably don’t have all the details. On top of that, everyone’s emotions would be running high.

Schools, like any organisations, can be hit by a crisis at any time. I’ve worked with many schools to prepare them to deal with media during crisis situations.

With so many competing demands, how do they respond to media under extreme pressure, quickly and professionally?

In many ways the media can be your best friend during a crisis, at a school or anywhere else.

Traditional and social media can be used to get messages out to parents and other stakeholders very quickly, if you are organised and realistic about what you can achieve during this time.

Confirmation that something has occurred, and that it’s being dealt with is better than silence.

Then as the details become available, updates can be delivered.

The idea of walking up to a media scrum during a crisis can be confronting.

But journalists can be helpful and sympathetic, especially in the early stages of a crisis.

While they prefer to get information from a trusted source, such as the leadership and emergency service personnel, they’ll take whatever information they can get.

Journalists at the scene are under enormous pressure to get something – anything.

Crisis Communications

Would a school Principal or CEO have time to deliver comment to waiting media while having to deal with hundreds of concerned parents, staff, other stakeholders and emergency services personnel? Probably not.

You must avoid situations where the media is desperate for comment but you’re too busy to speak.

That’s why designated media spokespeople should be ready and a crisis communications plan prepared.

If a crisis communications plan exists, it should be realistic and regularly updated. The plan should be clear and concise, not a two-inch-thick book of complex protocols.

Every organisation should prepare a response before a crisis hits.

They should have media spokespeople already trained to deal with the media; and ready to act during high pressure situations.

A spokesperson should be a confident speaker who isn’t going to be busy with other issues.

Key messages for different potential scenarios can be worked out ahead of time. This can take the pressure off the media spokespeople as they prepare to front the media during a crisis.

Would the senior person in your organisation have time to deal with the media if you faced a crisis?

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 how Corporate Media Services’ training programs can help you make the most of your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information.



Sun Sentinel


CBS Social Media Crisis Following Vegas Shooting

By Doug Weller

The CBS social media crisis following the tragic Vegas shooting highlights why social media protocols are so important for organisations.

Are there any words to describe the awful mass shooting in Las Vegas?

I was in Las Vegas only weeks before the incident, so to see what occurred there was surreal.

The headlines were hard to miss as the horrible tragedy unfolded.

Social media chatter intensified as people absorbed the news. Sadly, fake news stories about the shooting were also prominent online.

Social media is part of our lives and it’s an important communication tool if used correctly.

But inappropriate comments on social media, especially after a tragedy like Las Vegas, can damage an individual’s reputation and the organisation they work for.

Inappropriate comments can lead to social media storms that are sometimes hard or impossible to control.

Damage control

Viral PR disasters occur regularly on social media.

The shocking news quickly spread worldwide that thousands of people had been sprayed with bullets at a Las Vegas music festival, killing many and injuring hundreds.

In the immediate wake of the Las Vegas massacre, a high-ranking CBS employee made insensitive social media comments. Those comments left the media giant in damage control and the person unemployed.

Hayley Geftman-Gold worked as a vice president and senior legal counsel at CBS, New York. This was her Facebook post:

Image Source: @Breaking911

In response to the public outrage over the comments, CBS swiftly terminated her employment, stating:

“This individual, who was with us for approximately one year, violated the standards of our company and is no longer an employee of CBS,”…“Her views as expressed on social media are deeply unacceptable to all of us at CBS. Our hearts go out to the victims in Las Vegas and their families.”

Ms Geftman-Gold later issued her own personal apology:

Image Source: Mediaite

It’s amazing that a lawyer, working for one of the world’s largest broadcasters, wasn’t aware of the ramifications her social media comments would have.

Organisations need social media protocols

This incident highlights the need for businesses to have social media protocols in place and ensure all staff and contractors understand those protocols.

Social media is prolific and often the source of news stories. It’s here to stay.

Businesses must take social media communications seriously, especially when employees act contrary to corporate values.

Staff should be aware of their employer’s social media rules and they should also understand the consequences for online actions that threaten reputations.

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 how Corporate Media Services’ training programs can help you make the most of your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact Corporate Media Services for more information. Email your enquiry now to or call 1300 737 913



The Washington Post

Fox News





Princess Di’s Butler Squirms In Awkward Media Interview

By Doug Weller

Media interviews can get ugly…

Australian morning television host, Karl Stefanovic, opened a Today Show interview with Princess Diana’s butler, Paul Burrell, saying “We have a lot of things to talk about today…”

Yet, Stefanovic seemed to have only one thing on his mind: His claim that Burrell was unfair to say the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, lacks the ‘X-factor’.

Stefanovic appeared incensed about comments Burrell made in an earlier interview about Kate Middleton.


Referring to Middleton, Burrell had stated, “…that extra something which you call the X factor, the magic quality, charisma…it’s not there.”

He also said, “I met Mother Teresa, she had it, Pope John Paul II had it, the Queen has it, Diana certainly had it, Kate doesn’t.”

Don’t lose your cool

The butler quickly found himself in the firing line and The Today Show host was relentless in his questioning about those X-factor comments.

The interviewer’s questions and statements included:

•“You said she lacks the X factor that Diana had. That is way too harsh, isn’t it?”

•“I don’t even know where you came from, she doesn’t have the X factor of Mother Teresa, the Queen, Diana… Why would you even say that?”

•“How dare you even say that?”

•“Do you have some sort of oxygen deprivation at the moment? I mean, come on. Leave her alone”

•“If William is king one day and I found out you had said that about Kate I wouldn’t be letting you back into the country.”

No matter how many times Burrell answered in support of the Duchess, Stefanovic stuck to his line of questioning. He wouldn’t let go.

Burrell apologised straight off the bat for his comments saying, “I apologise if that was taken out of context. What I was trying to say was Diana was unique and irreplaceable and she had that something, which is charisma or magic. I’m not quite sure what it is.”

As the interview became more hostile, Burrell remained calm and answered politely.

In this case, many audience comments on The Today Show’s twitter feed were critical of Stefanovic’s performance and sympathetic to Burrell.

Maintaining composure in hostile interviews is essential. Losing your cool will only reflect negatively on you.

If you want your audience to remember your message, rather than your anger under pressure, remain calm at all times.

Backpedalling on your statement

As the interview continued, Burrell said, “…maybe my comment was out of kilter. I didn’t mean it that way.”

Don’t make comments for which you must apologise.

Backtracking is a bad look.

Generally, you’ll only have to back down if you haven’t done adequate preparation and anticipated the consequences of your comments.

If you make a claim in an interview, back it up. Don’t back down under pressure.

But if for some reason you do have to back down, do it in a definite way. For example, “You’re right. To say that was out of line. I should apologise and I do.”

Don’t waste your media opportunity.

Paul Burrell was on the Today Show for a reason. It’s unlikely he chose to be there for this grilling.

He may have been there to discuss the etiquette seminars he was conducting at the Versace Hotel on Queensland’s Gold Coast, or the charity morning tea he was hosting with proceeds going to Youngcare.

Perhaps he was there to discuss the 20th anniversary of Princess Diana’s tragic death.

Unfortunately for Burrell, he didn’t take control of the interview and whatever points he had hoped to deliver were lost.

You always need to make the most out of any media opportunity to deliver your messages.

Paul Burrell’s media opportunity became an awkward interview where he spent the entire time on the back foot.

The time he had to deliver his messages on national TV was wasted.

Never go into a media interview expecting an easy interview.

I don’t know what was going through the mind of Mr Burrell before the interview but I don’t think he expected to cop what he did.

It doesn’t matter what the topic is, it doesn’t matter what conversations you’ve had with a journalist or producer beforehand, expect the interview could go pear shaped at any time and prepare accordingly.

Have the danger zones covered off before you enter any media interaction or 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 want to know more about how Corporate Media Services’ training programs can help you make the most of your media opportunities and avoid the danger zones, contact contact Corporate Media Services for more information. Email your enquiry now to or call 1300 737 913


The Today Show Twitter

9 News


Don’t Let Your Crisis Response Become The Story

By Doug Weller

Empathy, empathy, empathy – let’s toss in sincerity. These qualities are crucial when it comes to your crisis response, especially when the media locks onto it.

An inappropriate initial crisis response can exacerbate the situation to the point of meltdown. Reputation damage can be significant and costly.

United Airlines Passenger Dragging Incident

United Airlines’ poor crisis response after a passenger was dragged off a flight, is the perfect example.

The passenger, Dr Dao, was already seated on the plane and refused the airline’s request to disembark the overbooked flight to make way for staff.

When Dr Dao wouldn’t comply, law enforcement forcibly removed him, badly wounding him in the process.

Witnesses filmed the drama, posted it on social media and away it went – viral on steroids.

Dr Dao’s lawyers said he suffered multiple injuries including a broken nose, concussion and the loss of two teeth as he was pulled from his seat and dragged through the aircraft.

Not surprisingly, the public was outraged and let United Airlines know.

The footage of an injured Dr Dao being pulled from his seat and then dragged through the plane sparked the crisis.

But as horrible as the incident and footage was, even more damage was done by United’s poor handling of the situation.

On April 10, 2017, United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, issued the following statement:


“This is an upsetting event to all of us here at United. I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers. Our team is moving with a sense of urgency to work with the authorities and conduct our own detailed review of what happened. We are also reaching out to this passenger to talk directly to him and further address and resolve this situation.” – Oscar Munoz, CEO, United Airlines


The CEO’s initial response didn’t reflect the seriousness of the incident, nor the public’s outrage.

Mr Munoz mentioned how upset United was but he didn’t initially acknowledge the distress caused to Dr Dao and other passengers.

Empathy, crucial at this stage of the drama, was limited to say the least.

Worse still, he used jargon when apologising for having to “re-accommodate” passengers.

“Re-accommodate”? Dr Dao was pulled from his seat screaming, injured in the process and dragged up the aisle.

The CEO’s inappropriate choice of sterile corporate language saw United Airlines mocked on social media and prime time talk shows. #reaccommodated trended on Twitter and memes lit up the internet.

United reaccommodate tweet

United DR meme


Along with the CEO’s poorly worded initial public response, Mr Munoz also called Dr Dao “belligerent and disruptive” in an internal email to employees:

Disruptive and beligerent

That statement rapidly intensified the public backlash with calls for the CEO to resign and passengers to boycott United.

One day later the CEO delivered his second and much more empathetic crisis response:

April 11, 2017
The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.
I want you to know that we take full responsibility and we will work to make it right.
It’s never too late to do the right thing. I have committed to our customers and our employees that we are going to fix what’s broken so this never happens again. This will include a thorough review of crew movement, our policies for incentivizing volunteers in these situations, how we handle oversold situations and an examination of how we partner with airport authorities and local law enforcement. We’ll communicate the results of our review by April 30th.
I promise you we will do better.

The second statement was sympathetic, took responsibility and outlined the airline’s commitment to ensuring such an incident would never happened again.

In the early stages of a crisis, compassion and empathy must take centre stage. If they don’t, any future statements, comments or actions will be lost as an angry public focusses on what it sees as an uncaring response.

Mr Munoz issued several public apologies following the incident. But it was easy for the public to interpret these as insincere damage control aimed at stopping the PR nightmare.

In his first interview about the incident on Good Morning America, Mr Munoz said that he felt shame and that the first thing he should do is apologise.

The reporter asked him why he didn’t apologise initially and why he’d also called Dr Dao belligerent and disruptive in internal staff correspondence. He said his first reaction was to get the facts.

Of course the CEO needed time to gather information.

He should have quickly admitted it was a terrible situation, shown empathy and announced that a full investigation had been launched to get the facts.

Calling the passenger “disruptive” and “belligerent” before fully understanding what happened was a huge mistake.

It implied that the passenger’s behaviour caused his dramatic removal from the aircraft, before any investigation had been completed and facts established.

During the interview Mr Munoz admitted that his initial crisis response fell short. He said he learned that to express an apology is an important part of the conversation. But it was too late.

For years United Airlines has been inviting customers to come fly the friendly skies. Video of a 69 year old doctor being dragged off a flight isn’t very friendly.

Get the facts quickly

This isn’t the first badly managed crisis and it won’t be the last.

Dreamworld theme park is another example of a poorly managed crisis response.

When customers tragically died after a ride malfunctioned, Dreamworld announced it would quickly reopen, failed to directly communicate with all victim’s families and held its AGM.

It all looked insensitive and Dreamworld felt the public’s wrath.

During a crisis, leaders need to have appropriate comments sorted very quickly.

It’s absolutely essential that the facts are gathered quickly when a crisis hits. But be cautious making any public comments until all the facts have been gathered and the picture is totally clear.

In the early stages you can quickly express empathy and you should treat everyone involved in the incident fairly and compassionately.

United Airlines Crisis Response – An Epic Mistake

When all of the facts were considered in United’s passenger dragging crisis, it was clear that the airline’s overbooking procedures had failed.

Weeks after the crisis, United’s CEO testified at a congressional hearing that the incident was “a mistake of epic proportions”.

But United’s crisis response immediately following the incident was also a mistake of epic proportions.

Had United initially been more empathetic, the incident, not the crisis response would have been the story.

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NBC News

Huffington Post

Washington Post

Business Insider Australia

ABC News

BHP Billiton

United Airlines


Dreamworld’s Crisis Communications Nightmare

By Doug Weller


The company logo says it all ‘Dreamworld Happiness’.

It’s all about fun, happiness, and good times’.

Many Australians have wonderful memories of Dreamworld.

Maybe that’s why the tragic accident that happened at Dreamworld shocked the public and impacted families nationwide.

This was a high profile and very newsworthy incident. It ran on local and international media for days.

Media reporting and scrutiny was fast. As you would expect journalists were quickly at the scene wanting details. Live crosses were the order of the day.

During a crisis like this, media interest is relentless.

When a crisis hits, handling it professionally should be the priority – certainly it is not business usual.

Company leaders need to front the media quickly. They need to display leadership and empathy.

Their media responses should demonstrate they are in charge and managing the very difficult situation.

The audience should be able to form a view early that the organisation’s leadership is doing everything possible to deal with the crisis and help those who are suffering.

Having an easy to read and easy to absorb crisis plan, which incorporates crisis media communications, is paramount in preventing reputation damage.

Spokespeople should understand their communications roles during a crisis and what the media will require.

Unfortunately, the Dreamworld crisis response didn’t hit the mark.

The initial response from Dreamworld’s Chief Executive, Craig Davidson, was solid.

But after that both Dreamworld and its owner Ardent Leisure seemed to be reacting rather than proactively managing the media.

In fairness, leaders are people. I’m sure most, if not all of these people, would have been in a state of shock. It must have been terrible for them.

But media and the public can be unforgiving. Ensure you have a tested and firm crisis strategy ready to go.

When a crisis hits, media will be on your doorstep in a flash.

Three things stood out in the immediate aftermath of this crisis:

  1. Planning to reopen within three days of the tragedy
  2. The AGM immediately following the accident
  3. Poor communication with victim’s families

All of these issues led to negative media.

Rushing to reopen Dreamworld

It was announced that a memorial would be held three days after the accident and the park would reopen for business.

Planning to reopen Dreamworld three days after the tragedy, even in a restricted capacity, was a major misstep.

The police investigation was still underway.

The victim’s bodies hadn’t been repatriated to their loved ones.

To reopen a ‘fun’ park, while authorities are just metres away investigating a fatal incident, can only lead to negative media coverage.

Executives said the decision was based on psychological advice that reopening the park would benefit their employee’s recovery.

That may be so. But timing the opening so soon after the incident was a bad move.

Of course employee welfare is an important factor. But employees could have been catered for in a different way such as opening a drop in centre at the complex so staff could chat to colleagues and counsellors.

The company’s leadership needed to consider the victim’s families, emergency investigators and the wider community when deciding when to reopen.

Dreamworld was obviously trying to do the right thing by everyone involved but many saw this move as insensitive and a public backlash followed.

Recovery from this point was always going to be difficult.

On top of this, if the theme park had reopened immediately after the accident, some of the first people through the door would have been journalists.

They would have come ready to interview patrons and staff about the tragedy resulting in more negative media.

The likelihood of distressed staff having to leave on that day would have been high and media would have caught every moment. Media on site would have only added to the distress.

Empathy and respect for the victim’s and their families should be a high priority after an accident like this, as should the incident investigation.

A reopening date was eventually postponed until after the victim’s funerals.

Holding the AGM in wake of crisis

The company’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was scheduled for two days after the tragedy.

It was unfortunate timing.

The media quickly reported that due to profit increases Ardent CEO, Deborah Thomas, was in line for a large financial bonus up to $843k.

Talk of large financial bonuses when people had lost their lives at Dreamworld resulted in another media and public backlash.

After the negative reaction, CEO, Deborah Thomas thoughtfully donated her cash bonus of $167,500 to the Red Cross for distribution to the victim’s families.

Unfortunately despite this, she and her family were subjected to appalling and disgraceful threats.

Poor communication with victim’s families

The next big misstep in handling this crisis was leadership’s poor communication with victim’s families.

During a crisis, not only do you need to be acting. It’s essential that you are seen to be acting.

Deborah Thomas stated in a media conference that the victim’s families had all been contacted and offered support.

We then watched as a journalist at the same media conference informed the CEO that one family had not been contacted by the company and was very upset.

The journalist told the CEO the relatives were watching the media conference and were angered at the false media comment claiming everyone had been contacted.

The journalist provided the family’s contact details to the CEO live on air!

This was an embarrassing moment for the company.

It would have been easy to use the media to make contact with the victims’ families so assistance could be offered.

Media representatives are more than happy to assist in this way when a crisis happens.

Instead, company executives were waiting for a police liaison officer to make contact with families.

The company could have used the media to deliver a statement such as:

“We are trying to make contact with you but we are having difficulty reaching you…. Please contact us or the police urgently so we can help and support you during this sad and difficult time.”

“We thank Queensland police for its efforts in trying to contact loved ones.”

“If you know family members please ask them to make contact with us or the police.”

But instead they were waiting for families to come to them via the police liaison process.

Waiting looked insensitive to many but that obviously wasn’t the intention.

Deborah Thomas has said if the company was hit with a crisis like this in the future she would handle the situation with the victim’s families differently.

Crisis Media Lessons

When you have an accident your response needs to be swift and compassionate

Don’t try to go back to business as usual in a hurry – wait until it’s clearly appropriate

When you have a critical incident like this stop everything and get the most senior people to the scene immediately

You need to reach out to victims and their families and do it fast

If possible, cancel or restrict public announcements unrelated to the tragedy

Ensure you are speaking to the community in a way which is acceptable and in a way that people can understand

Don’t use internal jargon

Always have a crisis plan you can activate as soon as an incident occurs

Ensure crisis media communications are incorporated into your plan

Be aware of your audience and what it needs to know

Use the media to communicate with your audience

Make requests for information if needed via TV, radio and social media.

Don’t give false information to the media – it will be embarrassing when refuted

Take control – be proactive not reactive

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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


Radio Interviews Via Phone

By Doug Weller


Don’t let mobile phone issues negatively impact your radio interviews.

Who doesn’t have a mobile phone these days?

Most of us can’t live without them – we feel like we’ve lost a limb if we are without a mobile phone for even a short time.

They’re as beneficial and convenient as they are intrusive.

Smart phones have definitely made it easier to reach our media audiences in record time.

Journalists and ‘Citizen journalists’ now use mobile phones to film and live stream dramatic events as they unfold. The audience experiences the news in real time. It really is incredible!

Poor quality news footage filmed on mobile phones has become acceptable. Now, poor quality footage is better than nothing – if it’s dramatic.

This isn’t the case with radio interviews.

Radio interviews obviously rely on sound only.

If the sound quality is poor, the message is diluted or even lost.

Why spokespeople should avoid mobile phones for radio interviews

1. Poor reception / Call dropouts

For all the advances in technology, many mobile phone connections are still pretty wobbly.

You don’t want to risk losing a connection in the middle of an interview.

Some people even engage in radio interviews using a mobile phone whilst driving a vehicle, increasing the call drop-out risk – crazy!

If you must use a mobile phone for your radio interview make sure you’re settled in a quiet stationary space.

2. Poor sound quality

Your audience shouldn’t need to work hard just to hear you on the radio.

Conducting a radio interview using your mobile speaker function can make it almost impossible to understand you.

The speaker phone can pick up surrounding noise that will compete with what you’re saying and distract listeners.

As a listener, I’ve switched off radio interviews being conducted using a mobile phone because the sound quality was so bad.

3. Battery issues

You’d think it would be a given that you would have your mobile phone fully charged and ready for your radio interview.

But many people get nervous at the thought of doing radio interviews and it’s easy to just focus on performance and forget to charge your phone.

Imagine your phone battery dying in the middle of your interview. It’s happened.

Again, avoid mobile phones for radio interviews.

If you don’t have a choice, make sure your phone is fully charged.

4. Call waiting


In the middle of your interview the call waiting alert can start as a new call comes in.

This is extremely distracting for you, the radio interviewer and the audience.

Straight away your message loses its impact as the call waiting alert becomes the focus.

If you must use your mobile for a radio interview, turn the call waiting function off before you start.

This goes for landlines too.

5. Radio studios and landlines are best

If you’re conducting a radio interview, do everything you can to get to a landline – going into the studio is even better.

If your interview has value for you it’s worth doing well.

Don’t let mobile phone issues trash your media opportunity.

The vast majority of the time, a landline conversation is going to be much better quality.

Listeners will be able to clearly hear what you’ve got to say and absorb everything without battling bad mobile reception.

If possible, go into a radio studio. The sound quality will be perfect and you’re able to build rapport with the announcer.

You’ll probably be given more interview time too.


Always remember the value for you in conducting radio interviews.

Ensure it’s a quality job to maximise the value to you.

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

Media Language – Drowning in your own words

By Doug Weller

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.


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

Do You Fear Public Speaking?

By 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

Interview Nerves

Are journalists out to get you?

Interview NervesBy Doug Weller

Are journalists out to get you? In my humble opinion, no.

Do some journalists and commentators come with agendas? The answer is probably yes.

Don’t forget that journalists are human beings and have personal opinions on a range of issues. But the vast majority of journalists are simply trying to pull together a story and get it finished by their deadline.

I’ve spoken to many people over the years who think all journalists want to catch them out.

Going into an interview and believing a journalist is going to dud you is a very negative head space. That will work against you in the media process because you will spend your entire time in ‘survival mode’, rather than concentrating on delivering a concise, clear and professional message.

Even if a journalist has a preconceived view before they speak to you, your definite and confident approach can often turn this around.

There are lots of different media formats – and some journalists and commentators use drama to try to boost ratings.  Radio ‘shock jocks’ are an example of this. But they have a transparent style so you should know what to expect.

Understanding the program’s format and interviewer’s style prior to conducting the interview is extremely important. Preparation is the key. Go in with your eyes wide open.

It’s up to you to develop and deliver messages that make your point.

Unfortunately there is a long line of ‘train wreck interviews’. An example is then rookie Senator, Ricky Muir’s interview with veteran journalist, Mike Willisee. Muir appeared unprepared and ill-equipped to handle this media interview.

In all the years I have covered stories for various news organisations, I never once left the office with the intention of stitching somebody up or pushing my own barrow.

I simply wanted to get a clear understanding of the issues and report them in a fair and balanced way. This meant I relied on my own research and the information I received before and during interviews from interviewees.

What do journalists want? They want to understand the issue completely and be able to conduct a sensible interview that works for them.

One of the biggest pitfalls when interacting with journalists is not being clear about your issue, or your messages.

When you speak to journalists they are generally going to quote you. If you haven’t prepared adequately you can get caught out.

Make sure you have your facts straight. Know why you are doing the interview. What’s the point? Where’s the value?

Sure, there may be some who don’t follow the rule book. But I truly believe that most reporters are fair and take their role seriously. They want to get it right.

Here are my major points for achieving a positive media outcome no matter what the issue:

• Interact with the journalist in a clear and positive way
• Ensure the journalist has all the facts but don’t overload them with material
• Be very clear about the messages you wish to deliver
• Deliver them in a clear, jargon free, credible way
• When the journalist hangs up the phone or walks out the door, make sure they are very clear about the facts of the issue and your messages

Abbott's Background Mishap

This Photo Opportunity Should Have Been Rejected

By Corporate Media Services Abbott's Background Mishap

Politicians are a mobile lot, looking for a photo opportunity at every turn.

A media pack chasing you around a shopping centre might seem annoying to most of us but politicians generally love that sort of publicity.

In the world of politics photo opportunities are crucial.

The unfortunate downside is that journalists, camera people and photographers get bored.

For them it’s just another shopping centre, another walk about, another photo op.  So they’re always looking for something a little bit different.

At the same time, politician’s media teams are always on the lookout for danger.

The big danger that everyone tries to avoid is a political photo in front of an ‘exit’ sign.

But let’s be fair dinkum about this, you can’t avoid every potential problem –  sometimes they just slip through.

A photo of Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, standing in front of the discount store ‘The Reject Shop’, is a perfect example of a politician being in the wrong spot at the wrong time.

Really, it could be argued that a photo like this is not in the public interest or anybody’s interest. Why would you publish it? Who cares?

But if an opportunity like this presents itself, there’s not a photographer or camera person who is going to knock it back. Especially when the debate about rejecting Mr Abbott seems endless.

If you’re outside the world of politics, situations like this one probably won’t be a major concern for you. But it’s an important reminder to be in control of your background if you’re appearing in the media.

Photographers and camera people generally aren’t trying to stitch you up visually but they are under a lot of pressure to deliver interesting photos and vision.

So before you are photographed or filmed, look over your shoulder and make sure you’re happy with the background.

If there is anything about the background that you’re not happy with, speak up.

Simply tell them that this isn’t working for you and then suggest a different location.

You don’t want the photo or vision to take away from your message – you certainly don’t want to send the wrong message.

Photo opportunities are great but be aware of what’s in the background.


Julie Bishop

The Julie Bishop Eye Roll Incident

By Doug WellerJulie Bishop


Politicians, especially those in the state and federal arena, do a lot of media interviews – it goes with the territory.

If you spend a lot of time doing media interviews you get an understanding of how the media operates and you quickly learn how to conduct yourself around cameras and microphones.

Federal politicians are acutely aware of where cameras are placed in the House of Representatives and the Senate.

In TV news items we often see politicians speaking in those forums and we can often see other politicians in the background.

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, would be well aware that she is in the background when others are speaking in the House of Representatives – she does sit on the front bench after all.

Ms Bishop is generally a very good media performer and she seems very savvy when cameras are about.

So I can’t understand why she put on the display that she did during Joe Hockey’s parliamentary tribute speech to Malcolm Fraser.

Her eye rolling, head shaking, jaw dropping performance during Joe Hockey’s delivery was really surprising.

Maybe she was jet lagged after a recent trip. Maybe she didn’t care about how it looked? Perhaps she was trying to send a message about cuts to foreign aid?

We may never know since she said she would keep her opinions to herself.

The major point we should take from this is that you don’t need to communicate verbally in the media in order to have a major impact.

Facial expressions and gestures say a hell of a lot.

Understand that your expressions and gestures will send powerful messages especially during face to face presentations, web based videos and TV interviews.

Whenever you are in an environment where people can see you or there are cameras around, be very focused on the visual messages you send.


• Assume all cameras are live and recording your movements
• Be aware of the powerful messages you can send via non verbal communication
• A picture is worth a thousand words

Further Reading

Julie Bishop makes real life eye roll emoji face as Hockey jokes about budget


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.


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.


  • 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

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



Doug Weller

Broadcasting from the world’s longest commercial flight

By Doug Weller

It’s August 1989 and QANTAS is about to fly the longest non-stop commercial flight in history.

The aircraft doing the honours is a QANTAS Boeing 747-400, registration VH-OJA, ‘City of Canberra’.

When I received a call from ABC management asking me what my August plans were I said “I’ll be on holidays”.

When they told me what was planned, I nearly jumped down the phone. I decided to throw my board shorts and very large straw hat back into the cupboard – Surfers Paradise would have to wait.

I was one of only 23 people aboard that record breaking non-stop flight from London to Sydney. It took 20 hours and 9 minutes which felt like forever at the time.

I was privileged to be the only broadcast journalist who was on-board.

From memory the passengers consisted of about five journalists, the crew and a few others.

QANTAS needed to use special fuel to make the distance and we had strict baggage weight limitations.

I had a broadcast point set up just outside the flight deck. It consisted of a microphone, and a box of some sort.

It worked on the tarmac at Heathrow but that was about it.

Once we were in the air I had major trouble broadcasting back to Australia so the crew allowed me into the flight deck to use their communications equipment.

Sitting just behind the crew I put on the headphones, adjusted the mic and felt like captain kangaroo.

Apart from the landing, that’s where I stayed for most of the trip to Sydney, sending reports to the ABC when the crew could spare their radio and we had adequate reception.

QF Crew - Longest Non-Stop Flight

Image Source: QANTAS

It was big news at the time and the crew went out of their way to help me do my job. They even agreed to a quick interview for the ABC ‘AM’ program as we approached Sydney.

I was about to do a report when I asked, “Hey, do one of you guys want to be on ‘AM’?” To my delight they did and going live to air took on a whole new meaning.

The opportunity to be a part of that historic QANTAS flight was a highlight of my career.

Now that same aircraft has flown it’s last commercial flight and is retiring to a new life as a museum exhibit at Illawarra Regional Airport.

Qantas has gifted the aircraft to the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS) where it will be on public display as a tourist attraction.

Some interesting Qantas Boeing 747-400 “VH-OJA” facts:

· 25.3 years in service

· 13,833 flights

· 4,094,568 passengers carried

· This aircraft has flown nearly 85 million kilometres, which is equivalent to 110.2 return trips to the moon

· “VH-OJA” was Qantas’ first Boeing 747-400 aircraft and was named the City of Canberra

· It was delivered to Qantas on 11 August 1989 and made its debut flight on 16 August 1989 from London to Sydney

· On Thursday 17 August 1989, it set the record for having flown the longest non-stop flight (London-Sydney) of any commercial airline (flight number QF7441)

Source: QANTAS

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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


Journalist in firing line

Journalism – A Dangerous Job

Source: World Association of Newspapers

By Doug Weller

It’s easy to forget journalism can be a very dangerous job.

The dangers are many for journalists who cover conflicts in various international hotspots.

A shocking example is that of freelance war correspondent, James Foley, who was abducted and beheaded.

Freelance cameraperson, Ashoka Mukpu, is another example having contracted and survived the deadly ebola virus while covering the health crisis in Liberia.

Journalists and other members of the media don’t necessarily need to work in international danger zones to be targets.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris shows journalists simply working at their desk in a city office can be in jeopardy.

Journalists and other media representatives can be criticised. Some of these criticisms may be justified if the reporting is inaccurate or unethical.

But we should never forget that the crucial role of a free media in a free society is to observe and report without fear or favour.

Journalist danger stats

Source: Committee to Protect Journalists. W. Foo, 20/08/2014

The 2014 Walkley Awards chose ‘courage’ as its theme to acknowledge the dangers journalists face doing their job.

We need to keep in mind that these people are story tellers. We are all consumers of news who want to read, listen to and watch their stories.

The ABC has established a staff memorial which pays tribute to ABC staff members who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

Take a look and spare a thought for those in the media who have suffered or lost their lives and those who still risk their lives to bring us the news.

Further reading

Peter Greste – Walkely award winner for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Journalism’

Balibo Five Investigation Dropped by AFP

Ukraine Tops Journalist Death Toll This Year

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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


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.


  • 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.

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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!


  • 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

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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

Thorpe Parkinson Tell All Interview

Ian Thorpe’s Strategic Outing

Thorpe Parkinson Tell All Interview
By Corporate Media Services

It must have taken a lot of guts for Olympic swimmer, Ian Thorpe, to out himself on international television.

Thorpe chose to be an athlete, not a celebrity. His talent brought him fame.

With fame comes a heavy price – a loss of privacy.

In this age of social media, 24 hour news cycles and audiences hungry for information about well-known people, that privacy can be more and more difficult to control.

The way Ian Thorpe chose to go public with his announcement was really interesting.

In the media trade it’s called being ‘strategic’.

There are two main ways you can make a major media announcement

The first way is to do it in one hit with a media conference and associated media release.

Media conferences allow you to announce your message or information to multiple journalists and media outlets at once.

The downside of this is that you may face questions coming from all directions and even a hostile media pack.

The second way to make a major media announcement is to be strategic. Pick one person or one media outlet.

That’s exactly what Ian Thorpe did.

For Thorpe’s announcement, he chose renowned interviewer, Michael Parkinson.

Parkinson is one of the best interviewers of our time. Not because of what he says, but because of what he doesn’t say.

Michael Parkinson is smart enough to let interesting people tell their story.

Parkinson’s style is to guide his guests and allow them to open up. It’s called letting the interview breathe.

That’s exactly what Ian Thorpe needed; an interviewer smart enough and skilled enough to allow him to tell his story.

Media around the world picked it up and it became big news.

But Ian Thorpe was able to set the agenda and no matter what tact various journalists and media outlets took. He’d had his say in a controlled environment.

If you’ve got something really big to announce, think about the way you want to proceed.

Would you prefer fronting up to a potentially difficult or hostile media conference? Or, do you want a much more controlled environment in a one-on-one interview situation?

Yes, you may need to participate in a range of different interviews after your one-on-one but at least you’ve had your say.


  • Think about the best way to make your announcement
  • Sometimes the one-on-one interview is a much better option than a media conference
  • Whether you choose a one-on-one interview or a media conference, make sure your messages are organised – know what you want to say and why
  • Be prepared


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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

Jacqui Lambie and Heart Radio's Kim & Dave

Jacqui Lambie’s ‘Well-Hung’ Moment

Jacqui Lambie and Heart Radio's Kim & Dave
By Doug Weller – Corporate Media Services


Australian Senator, Jacqui Lambie, made some below the belt comments – quite literally, on Hobart’s Heart 107.3 breakfast show with Kim and Dave.

In the interview, the radio hosts asked Senator Lambie about her relationship status and what she looks for in a man.

Her response was blunt; he must be rich and well endowed, or in Lambie speak, he must have “heaps of cash and they’ve gotta have a package between their legs, let’s be honest – and I don’t need them to speak.”

Very interesting Jacqui, although I’m not sure that’s the sort of information the Australian public needs to hear from a federal politician.

She even went on to chat with a 22 year old male caller and asked if he was “well-hung”.

Someone said to me they liked this interaction because they’re sick of slick politicians delivering slick media performances. In their opinion, it was just a bit of fun.

I understand that view. We’re sick of politicians delivering messages like robots.

But do we really want to hear stuff like this from a federal law maker?

Australia has witnessed its fair share of clangers dropped by politicians. Pauline Hanson and former Queensland Premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, come to mind. Joh’s interview antics were so famous they were parodied.

There is definitely room in politics for a bit of light banter. US President, Barack Obama, is a pro at this. He knows how to joke around in a media environment without losing the respect of the people.

But politicians, like everybody else, need to be careful about what they say in traditional media interviews or social media posts. Otherwise it can come back to haunt them.

When Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was filmed winking during a radio talk back call with a phone sex worker, it hit the headlines and he was labelled a creep. He didn’t have to say a word to make a negative impression; his body language did the talking.

Jacqui Lambie seemed to think that she could make a controversial comment in one media format and that’s where it would stay.

”Of course my political enemies will make a big deal out of my comments, but the reality is I was talking with Kim and Dave on Heart FM – not Sarah Ferguson on the ABC,” she commented.

Media interviews are media interviews. The program format is irrelevant. Whether she was being interviewed on a fun-filled radio chat show, or a serious current affairs program, her comments and behaviour are news.

When Ms Lambie eventually offered a public apology to anyone she may have offended, she was disappointed that some of her important key messages on policy hadn’t received media attention.

”I also told Kim and Dave about the $3000 a year that the Palmer United Senate team saved average Australian families at the last sitting of Parliament, but of course those comments didn’t receive nationwide coverage – go figure!”

Go figure indeed, Jacqui. She destroyed any chance of a positive message being picked up once she uttered the words “well-hung.”

Everyone should know there is a line you don’t cross during media interviews.

Jacqui Lambie crossed it.


  • If you do or say something outrageous in a media interview it can quickly become a headline for all the wrong reasons.
  • Don’t be afraid to engage in polite banter or humour during a media interview BUT be careful about it.
  • A good rule of thumb is something I learned on my second day as a cub reporter – if in doubt, leave it out.

Further Information

Well-Hung?  Palmer United Party senator Jacqui Lambie boards the Oversharing Express on radio station Heart 107.3

President Obama plays straight man to Hangover star Zach Galifianakis

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

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.


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.


  •  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

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Further Assistance

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

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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.


  • 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

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

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Abbott Wink Image

Abbott’s wink – Body language in the media

Abbott Wink Image
By Corporate Media Services

A wink of the eye can say so many things. You can give a reassuring wink, a flirty wink, or even a conspiratorial wink.

This small and simple physical gesture can send many different non-verbal signals.

Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, was reminded of what a wink can mean as he took calls during a filmed radio interview.

A 67 year old female caller, unhappy with the 2014 federal budget, said that to make ends meet she worked on an adult phone sex line to subsidise her pension.

As he listened, the Prime Minister winked and smiled when he heard her occupation, and the footage went viral.

Was his wink mocking the caller in amusement? Or, as his press secretary suggested, was he simply winking his approval to continue on with the call?

Whatever the Prime Minister’s wink meant, it was open to interpretation and sent a mixed message. Did the Prime Minister care about the budget concerns of this person or not?

Body language is a crucial part of the media process, especially when TV cameras are involved and although Mr Abbott later admitted he shouldn’t have done it, the damage was already done.

Verbal and visual media messages must match

What you say in the media isn’t the only message the audience hears loud and clear. Your body language can sometimes deliver a major message and if it doesn’t match what you’re saying, beware!

As with any message, the more it personally resonates, the more the audience will take notice.The worse the news is the more attentive and critical the audience will be.

The Australian public had their ears peeled and their eyes wide open as they watched Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey’s, 2014 federal budget speech.

His speech was an ultimate showcase on how mismatched body language can damage a spoken message.

The budget address is a carefully staged event. The House of Representatives cameras are strategically placed to ensure they get a good shot of the Treasurer speaking, with the Prime Minister and a range of backbenchers sitting behind him.

The job for everybody behind the Treasurer is to nod, look concerned and interested at all of the appropriate times.

In this example, the body language of relevant people should convey the message that the government is standing solidly behind the Treasurer as the Australian public hears the harsh budget news.

For some unexplained reason, Prime Minister Tony Abbott decided to have a chat to those sitting next to him during Joe Hockey’s speech. He was even seen having a giggle and covering his mouth with his hand.

This was an appalling look when the Treasurer was delivering bad news to millions of Australians.

The audience could interpret the Prime Minister’s amusement as flippant disregard for how the budget would affect them, even if his laughter was completely unrelated.

Treasurer, Joe Hockey, also left himself wide open by dancing in his parliamentary office in Canberra to the strains of ‘This is the Best Day of My Life’, before delivering the budget. His excuse – the song is one of his son’s favourites and his son was with him at the time…but that’s not the point.

His body language and media messages didn’t align. He was inappropriate and his behaviour left him open to scrutiny.

The first question veteran Australian journalist, Laurie Oakes, asked Joe Hockey on budget night was why he danced before delivering the speech. That interview question pretty much derailed the Treasurer’s budget message.

Dancing when you’re about to deliver a budget that will negatively impact millions of Australians just isn’t a good look for the country’s Treasurer.

A photograph is as powerful as video

Body language sends just as strong a message in print and online media as it does on TV. A picture paints a thousand words as the old saying goes.

Only days before the budget speech, Treasurer Joe Hockey was feeling the heat after being snapped smoking a cigar with the Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann.

Both men were probably just relaxing after the gruelling process of pulling together such a tough budget. The problem is that cigar smoking is often associated with celebration.

Unfortunately the Treasurer’s audience, mainly the Australian voting public, had little cause to celebrate the federal budget.

Joe Hockey’s body language should have supported his verbal message that times were tough. All of his media exposure during budget time should have been sending a message of empathy and understanding to his audience.

Instead he was doing a jig a stone’s throw from the National Press Gallery and puffing on a cigar.

Media examples like this exist on all sides of politics right across the globe. Politicians are accountable to the public so they are constantly scrutinised by the media.

When big news is breaking in the media you should always be conscious that there are cameras and journalists everywhere ready to catch all appropriate and inappropriate moments.


  • In the media, your visual and verbal messages must be in sync
  • Body language is powerful and speaks volumes to your audience
  • An inappropriate photo or video can derail your message
  • If your body language and verbal messages don’t match you might find a different message has reached your audience

    Further Information

    Outrage over Abbott’s wink


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

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

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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.

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Social Media Versus Traditional Media

Social Media Versus Traditional Media

By Corporate Media Services

Media spokespeople often complain that media interviews with journalists, microphones and cameras are stressful.

However, unlike social media, media spokespeople are aware of the moment and the possible ramifications.

With social media, you may not be aware of the possible ramifications of what is recorded online in text, audio or video.

At a recent business conference in New Zealand, a businesswoman told me how she was looking up the Facebook details of a winery where she wanted to book some accommodation. Unfortunately, the owner had responded negatively to a recent guest comment, so she left the page and looked for another venue.

Almost daily, we see in the broader media, examples of where social media has been misused. Some describe social media as being evil – it is not. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram etc are all wonderful ways to communicate messages to our audiences.

What people put on social media could be described as evil or at the very least, stupid.

Many people now get their main news and information from social media and ignore what’s available via traditional media.

So we need to embrace and treat social media with respect and have social media protocols in place.

Review the following video for more insight into the world of social media.

Information Only

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Further Assistance

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

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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

The Bali Media Circus Continues…

Australian Media Circus in Bali

by Doug Weller

The money driven, ego driven, Australian media circus in Bali needs to end. Every non local media representative in Bali should just pack up and go home. Then cover something that really matters to the Australian community – something in the public interest.

The Bali Media Circus

The Bali Media Circus

Posted by Doug Weller

The media circus in Bali is in full swing and Shapelle Corby is yet to be released. It will be very interesting to watch this roll out over the next few days and watch the major news outlets scramble for exclusives. News becomes entertainment – there’s a lot of money to be made. See more:

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Dealing With a Crisis

Dealing With a Crisis

Posted by Doug Weller

The current diplomatic crisis with Indonesia is a really interesting case study in crisis management. It backs up our firm belief that you need to do the following as a crisis develops:

Move quickly – understand how bad it could get.

Communicate early – get the messages out that you are taking action.

Try to turn it into a positive – introduce processes to ensure it won’t/can’t happen again.

This is a good read on the issue.

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Remain Calm Under Pressure

Remain Calm Under Pressure

When the pressure is on ensure you remain calm – especially when there are TV cameras everywhere.

Posted by Doug Weller

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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

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Why Shock Jocks Rate

Posted by Doug Weller

Interesting article on why shock jocks are a ratings hit.

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Clear and Concise Media Messages

Clear and Concise Media Messages

Posted by Doug Weller

Great to see these clear messages being delivered during the New South Wales bushfires – so important during an emergency.

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Presentation Pressures On High Profile Women

Presentation Pressures On High Profile Women

Posted by Doug Weller

Great article from journalist Annabel Crabb regarding the presentation pressures on high profile women:

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Poor Choice Of Message

Poor Choice Of Message

Posted by Doug Weller

Poor choice of message sparks a predictable response:

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Remain Calm During Media Events

Remain Calm During Media Events

Posted by Doug Weller

One of the first lessons of media communications – remain calm: This may be entertaining but it’s not a good look:

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Caught On Camera

Caught On Camera

Posted by Doug Weller

We now live in a world where cameras are everywhere:

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Get Your Facts Straight Before a Media Interview – Part Two

Get your facts straight before a media interview

By Doug Weller

Media communication 101: Before you front the media, get your facts straight.

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Get Your Facts Straight Before a Media Interview

Get your facts straight before a media interview

Posted by Doug Weller

Media communication 101: Before you front the media, get your facts straight.

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Changing Style of TV News Coverage

Changing Style of TV News Coverage

Posted by Doug Weller

Interesting to view the changing style of TV news coverage. Here is an ITN news bulletin following the birth of Prince William about 30 year ago. Interesting when compared with today’s royal birth media circus.

To view:

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News Anchor Nightmare

News Anchor Nightmare

Posted by Doug Weller

Television news and current affairs anchors cop a lot of flack, but when there is chaos off set, they are the ones who wear it:

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Great Use of Social Media

Great Use of Social Media

Posted by Doug Weller

There has been more than 50 million hits on this award winning Metro Trains Melbourne video.

Great use of social media.

Details here:

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Live Clanger

By Doug Weller

Here is another example of someone forgetting the microphone was on during a live broadcast. If you are involved in a live interview or broadcast be aware of where you are and what you are doing.  Click here to see the clanger:

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Media Ratings

Media Ratings

People often forget that the media, including radio, is a business. This item explains how crucial ratings are for radio commentators. We should never forget the level of competition involved in the media and the impact it has on those working in the media industry. If you can’t watch the whole program, make sure you see the first two and half minutes.

By Doug Weller

See the program here:

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A Great Article About Journalism

This is a great article from a good journalist.

By Doug Weller

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Unusual Broadcast Interview

Unusual Broadcast Interview

By Doug Weller

Never go near a microphone after a few drinks. Here’s why:

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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.

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How to use radio to communicate your media message

How To Use Radio To Communicate Your Media Message

First Published: 9/7/10
Last Update: 08/09/12
Author: Doug Weller
Words: 1,668

Radio is one of the most useful mediums in terms of getting a media message across. People tend to fear radio because it is a live medium. Some people feel that they can’t communicate properly if they can’t see the person who is conducting the interview. However, radio is a terrific medium and is very, very powerful.

Research tells us that most people listen to the radio at some stage of the day. So I just want to give you strategies for dealing with radio and I want to walk you through the different components of the radio medium.

You’ve basically got radio news programs, whether they are on the ABC, SBS or commercial radio networks. In that arena, you are only ever going to get across a very short message. It’s going to be very quick. It’s going to be a ‘grab’ or sound-bite when you are speaking to radio journalists from newsrooms; that is all they want. They don’t want you to go on for twenty minutes because they just don’t have the ability to accommodate that.

I’ve worked for radio news organisations at the ABC and I’ve worked for commercial news organisations. Short snappy comments are what they want. They simply want a ‘grab’. So when you are speaking to people on a radio news program, you simply ask them what they want, and then deliver it. This is very much the case for journalists across the board.

Ask the journalists what they want and what they’re after. Whether it’s a couple of quotes for a newspaper article, a couple of ‘grabs’ for a radio station or a longer interview. Whether it’s going to be pre-recorded or it’s going to be live. You need to empower yourself in this process, you need to actually say to these journalists, ‘what do you actually want from me?’.

You can deliver a series of ‘grabs’ for a radio news journalist or a newsroom but if the audience doesn’t understand your message, there is no point in you actually delivering anything. It needs to be very concise, it needs to be jargon-free and it needs to be snappy, otherwise there is no point to conducting the interview. Focus on the audience and focus on the outcome; never forget that.

Then you move on to radio current affairs. The two major radio current affairs programs in this country are ABC programs called AM and PM. There are other current affairs programs but AM and PM are the main ones: now this is where you need to broaden it out.

Following on from ABC Current Affairs Radio, there are radio programs which are very similar to current affairs interviews. By ‘programs’, I mean interviews you might have with Alan Jones in Sydney or Neil Mitchell in Melbourne. It will be a longer interview and if it is going to be in that arena, it is more likely to be a bit feisty, depending on the topic. You need to know how to get your message across in a situation like that. You also need to know how to remain calm because when people overreact, the whole interview becomes counter-productive. There is generally an amount of ‘radio theatre’ in commercial radio interviews.

And then you’ve got talkback radio. A lot of people fear talkback because anybody can ring in and they can make any claims at all. So people tend to get very scared of talkback radio and they tend to back away from it when there is no need to. Talkback is a terrific medium if you want to get your media message across because there are very few other areas of journalism where the journalist or the commentator will actually give you the floor for a period of time. So people tend to steer away from talkback radio because they’re scared that people are going to call them and make whatever comments they want. Many people fear it will make them look like an idiot.

Suppose you receive a phone call from a commercial radio station, Neil Mitchell for example, wanting you to come on his program and talk about a controversial issue. People tend to back off because their reputation is going to be on the line.

Some people opt to put out a statement instead. But by talking on the program, you have an opportunity to deliver your media message. You simply must be in control and know what you are going to say and how you are going to say it.

If you do receive phone calls out of left field from someone at a talk back radio station, how would you handle that? Somebody rings up and says ‘I am from xyz program and we have been told that you and your organisation are corrupt.’ How do you think you would handle that?

You are only in control of three things in any media situation: firstly, what you say (your key messages), secondly, how you look (the way you are dressed) and finally, how you deliver your media message (e.g. physically and/or verbally). You need to make sure that you are in total control.

On radio, you don’t have to worry about the physical delivery but you do have to worry about the verbal delivery and word content. You have no control over anything else in this process except those three things mentioned above. In a radio situation, you are only in control of two things (e.g. points one and three).

Don’t repeat words that can be manipulated by a journalist. A journalist may say that “your organisation is corrupt and outrageous”. You do not respond and say “we are not a corrupt, outrageous organisation”. If you do, you have taken ownership of those words. You are then on their agenda, not your agenda. If faced with accusations like that, you respond by saying “that’s not true, that’s not right. Our organisation is a terrific organisation, we are currently undergoing some problems and we are fixing those problems”.

Some people tell me that because they can’t see the person at the other end during a radio interview being conducted over the phone, they find it very unnerving. Other people prefer communicating over the phone with radio commentators and journalists because they are happy to be on their own territory (e.g. security of their office, home, etc.) because they feel they have more control over the radio interview. By the way, unless you’re the Prime Minister, Police Commissioner or some other kind of dignitary, you are unlikely to have an interview conducted in a studio. The vast majority of radio interviews are conducted over the phone.

When you come up against aggression in a media interview, especially in radio, you need to take control of the process. In every media interview situation, you need to focus on the outcome and you need to focus on the audience.

When we do media training, I say to people, ‘Why are we doing media training? Why would you bother doing media training? What is the point of going through this media training course”? If the audience does not understand your media message, there is no point conducting the media interview. If you are delivering a media message that people don’t understand, it’s like delivering a message to an empty room, there is no point to it. If they understand it but it’s not professional and you’re not calm under pressure, again there is no point to it.

So finally, I want to walk you through some of the theories we are talking about. News journalists, like all journalists, are facing deadlines. The deadlines in a radio newsroom come around very swiftly. Generally speaking, they are either on the hour or the half hour. So understand the amount of pressure these people are under if they’re pumping out news bulletins every half hour. By the time the news bulletin goes to air, if these journalists go and get a cup of tea and get back to the newsroom, they have about twenty minutes before it’s time for the next news bulletin.

So if somebody calls you from a radio newsroom, make sure you give them what they want and need. If they require a couple of ‘grabs’, give them a couple of ‘grabs’. Give them what they need, and consequently, it will work for them and it will work for you.

In a radio news bulletin, you will never hear anything longer than about five to ten seconds, unless it’s a huge news story. Most radio stations have a very broad audience; so again, you need to focus on the objective and the outcome.

It’s very difficult to condense an important issue into about seven or eight seconds but if you don’t, they will. I’ve had people ask me “how can I condense four years of work into a few seconds”? I tell them it’s very hard, however, if you don’t do it, the journalist will, and you may not be happy with the outcome.

So you don’t go into these situations thinking you can’t do this or that. You have to fit in with what the journalist is doing and what the radio station is doing. If you deliver a long rambling quote or comment that goes for thirty seconds and it can’t be edited, then it won’t be used.

Current affairs programs also have deadlines. How do you find out what their deadline is? You ask them. A lot of people feel confronted by the whole process of dealing with journalists and the media and they don’t ask questions. You need to empower yourself in this process and ask the journalist what he or she is looking for, what it’s going to be used for, how much material they will need from you, what audience is the report aimed at? Then you will have a good understanding of where they’re coming from and they will have an understanding that you do know how to deal with a ‘media situation’.

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

Interview Nerves

Three Major Myths of Media Training

Three Major Myths of Media TrainingFirst Published: 08/07/10
Last Update: 09/07/12
Author: Doug Weller
Words: 1,760

Media Training-Media Training-Media Training. Why is there such a thing as media training? Why do we conduct Media Training Programs and Media Training Courses? A few decades ago media training did not exist. Media training has only been around, in a formal sense, since the 1970’s. Let me speak to you about the three main myths in regards to media training.

The First Myth: This Company seems professional so it must be Okay.

There are a lot of media training organisations throughout Australia and the South Pacific. Some media training organisations are good; others not so good. How do you pick a legitimate media training organisation?

I’ve been saying for some time that there is a lot of ‘fluff and bubble’ involved in the media training industry. There are many people out there conducting media training who don’t know a great deal about the media.

The best way to work out if a media training organisation is reputable is to choose a journalism-based media training organisation. What I mean by that is; choose a media training company which is owned and operated by a journalist.

Let me speak about Corporate Media Services – our organisation. I am the owner and director of Corporate Media Services. My history in journalism spans 30 years, it covers all mediums and I have worked as a journalist both in Australia and overseas. I’ve worked in roles ranging from an on-the-road reporter, to Chief of Staff, and have fronted radio and television programs.

So people should choose a media training organisation which has a journalist as the Director or operator. Many media training organisations are owned and operated by people who have had no journalism experience.

Obviously, if you are going to contract somebody to do media training for you, you should be choosing somebody who has a media/journalism background. But how can you be sure that the media training organisation you are contracting has the qualifications it claims to have?

The internet is an amazing and useful tool, it allows us to check things quickly and in many cases, thoroughly. Don’t just take the word of any media training organisation in terms of the background of the trainers and the operators, check it on the internet.

For instance, with our company, Corporate Media Services, if anybody wanted to check my background, I would suggest they do a google search on ‘Doug Weller’ and ‘journalism’ and see what comes up. If they wanted to check my credentials in terms of being a University Lecturer, google ‘Doug Weller RMIT University’ and see what comes up.

So you should not just take the word of the media training organisations in terms of the background of the trainers or the operators of that organisation. You also need to thoroughly check that the media training organisation you are contracting has people at the top with a substantial media/journalism background.

The second myth: The use of studios for media training.

Some organisations claim to have radio and television studios where their media training will be conducted. There are two major myths in this area: the first is that very rarely are these ‘so called’ TV and radio studios really studios, they are ‘mock ups’ to look like studios. To the untrained eye, this may look very impressive, however in reality, these ‘so-called’ studios are not really studios.

Secondly and more importantly, it can in fact be counter-productive to conduct media training in a radio or TV studio for most people. For instance, unless you are the Prime Minister, the Premier, the head of a major organisation, or somebody like the Police Commissioner, it is highly unlikely you will be asked to do a media interview in a radio or TV studio. The vast majority of interviews that are conducted around Australia and indeed around the world, are conducted with newspaper journalists over the telephone. After that, the majority of interviews are conducted with radio journalists, again over the telephone. The only person sitting in a studio during those radio interviews will be the journalist.

If trainees do their media training in ‘so called’ radio or television studios, it can be counter-productive because the training is being conducted in an unrealistic environment. If people are to undergo media training, they need to undergo that media training in environments that are as close to ‘real life’ as possible. That generally means your office environment because that is where you are likely to do most interviews. That is why we conduct most of our training at the client’s premises.

If you are likely to be doing radio interviews over the telephone from an office, your media training should be conducted in an office environment. If you are likely to be doing television interviews outside, the media training should be conducted outside with a media industry standard television camera. If you are likely to be doing interviews over the phone with newspaper journalists in an office environment, then that is the environment in which the training should be conducted.

In my view, to conduct media training in a ‘so-called’ radio or television studio where the trainee is unlikely to be interviewed, is counter-productive.

Some of our clients, due to their position, may require the media training to be conducted in a studio. When this is the case, we do deliver the training in a state-of-the-art broadcast studio.

The third myth: The media trainer told me it was true, so it must be true.

Media training falls into basically two types; there is ‘old style’ media training and there is ‘new style’ media training. The media is changing constantly. For instance the way news is delivered is changing and the way interviews are conducted is changing. What is expected of people in terms of those interviews is also changing.

The way we did a radio interview ten years ago compared to the way we do it now is totally different.  If people are being taught an old style of media training, it will be detrimental in terms of their media performance. For instance people were once told to work out their key messages to avoid questions, and simply repeat their key points no matter what the journalist asks. That is now counter-productive. In fact it is quite damaging in terms of the media message delivery process.

The media industry and the community have moved forward a great deal in the past few years in terms of what they view as acceptable and not acceptable in terms of a media performance. If media trainers are delivering ‘old style’ media programs, it will be detrimental to the trainee.

To avoid these myths within the media training industry you should:

1. Check the credentials of the owner and/or operator of the media training organisation that you are contracting to do your media training.

2. If you are being told that your media training will be conducted in a TV or radio studio, check the studio to ensure that it is a broadcast quality studio. More importantly, ask why the media training is being conducted in a studio if the majority of your interviews are going to occur in an office environment or outside.

3. Ask the media trainers what sort of training they deliver. Ask them about the changes that have occurred in the media industry in the last several years, especially in terms of interviewing and media-message delivery.

It is essential when you are getting media training that you get the correct type of media training. It needs to be conducted by people with solid credentials and in an environment which is suitable.

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