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

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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


New Media Old Rules How one quick quip can destroy your reputation

New Media – Old Rules How one quick quip can destroy your reputation

New Media – Old Rules. How one quick quip can destroy your reputation

Published: 10 November 2010
Publication: ArticlesBase
Author: Doug Weller
Words: 473
Image of article: Shown below
See it online at:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

•A Professor from the University in Pennsylvania sacked after making “light-hearted” comments about looking for a hit man after a bad day in the classroom.
•Two employees at Domino’s Pizza sacked after doing “vile things” to food and posting it on You Tube.
•An Age newspaper journalist sacked for sending out “offensive comments” on Twitter during the Logies.
•Recently, Australian swimmer Stephanie Rice was reduced to tears during her apology for a quick “tweet”.
While new and social media expands our ability to reach new and larger audiences, it needs to be treated with extreme caution. The absence of journalists or interviewers can lead people to relax to the point where little thought is put into what is being posted or broadcast.

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

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

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

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

If so, go ahead and hit “send”.

If not, think about it.

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

New Media Old Rules How one quick quip can destroy your reputation

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

Corporate Media Services Finding the right voice

Finding the Right Voice

Finding the Right Voice

Published: 23 January 2008

Publication: Herald Sun

Author: Paula Beauchamp

Words: 148

Image of article: Shown below


Finding the right voice

More and more organisations are looking to engage with the media and seek out media training to improve the outcome, experts say. Media trainer Doug Weller says much of the focus today is on crisis media management.

“I think organisations realised, more and more after 9/11, that any organisation can be hit with a crisis, that it can happen in a moment”, said Mr Weller, who runs Corporate Media Services.

Organisations want to know what they need to do to communicate quickly and effectively. Most crisis media training courses explain the pressures journalists work under and the steps organisations must take to effectively deliver their message.

If a crisis hits, Weller recommends speaking to the media as soon as possible, even if you don’t yet have all the information at hand. Organisations that seek out media training typically range from medium-sized to very large corporate or government entities.


Corporate Media Services Finding the right voice

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Busting the Media Myths 1

Busting the Media Myths

Busting the Media Myths

Published: November/December 2007

Publication: AAA

Author: Doug Weller

Pages: 66-67

Words: 989

Image of article: Shown below


Busting the media myths

The media can often seem rude, pushy and difficult to understand. Doug Weller give’s a journalist’s point of view and explains why it’s crucial to cooperate with them.

According to some people, journalists are ‘thugs’, ‘parasites’ and ‘scum’. These are just some of the responses we have received when we ask participants what they think of the media at the start of our media training programs. In fact, some responses are even more colourful than this – so much so that they could not be printed here.

I have been a journalist for more than 30 years and even though there are some in the media industry who are not my bosom buddies, I would never describe them using the words listed above. In fact most of the journalists I know are great people – dare I say, some of my best friends are journalists!

So why do some people, particularly those involved in the aged care industry, have such a negative view of journalists and the media?

In a nutshell, it is a clash of cultures and a lack of understanding. In the general community, there is a lack of understanding of how journalists operate, a lack of understanding of what journalists require – especially in crisis – and a lack of confidence to deliver what the journalist wants and needs.


Journalists work in a pressure cooker. They face deadlines like few other professionals; ‘same-day-stories’ will be done no matter what! If the evening news on the TV is scheduled to go to air at 6pm, it will go to air at 6pm. Not at 6.05pm. Not at 6.01pm.


All mediums face deadlines and they are sacrosanct. This means, as journalists get closer to those deadlines the pressure increases. And if you refuse to comment on a story, especially in a crisis, journalists will become hostile. They will gather what they require – comments, vision, photos – any way they can. By frustrating journalists who are under pressure to produce a story, you simply ensure the journalist is upset and angry with you when writing that story. That’s not a good move.

Journalists will always meet their deadline! There is no other option. If a journalist, cameraperson or photographer tells an editor they are unable to get what was required to meet the deadline, it is a career destroying move.


After many years of training people how to deal with the media I believe that most people actually want to comment to the media in a crisis, yet instead, as the pressure increases it all becomes too hard and they say “lock the gates”.

Locking the gates, locking the doors, calling security or the police to keep the media away when you are dealing with a crisis, is an understandable and very normal human reaction. But it causes problems.

If the media is interested in a story relating to your aged care facility it will probably be because you are facing a very difficult situation. It could even involve the death of a resident. The bigger the issue, the bigger the story for the media and the less you may want to talk. However, it should be the other way around. The bigger the issue, the bigger the story, the more interested you should be in speaking to the media.


You see, it’s not the media on which you need to focus, it is the audience. The media is simply the vehicle by which the message is delivered to that audience. By shutting out the media, you shut out the audience, often when you need to reassure that audience. “No comment” is not a good look, especially in a crisis.

What did you think of the company that last delivered via the media, a curt message of “no comment”? There is always something an aged care facility spokesperson can say. What you need is a formula: a set of words – a process if you like – that will allow them to communicate their message, even when they know very little about a crisis, or can only give very limited comment.

They need to respond quickly. They need to look in control, and appear neat, tidy and confident. They need to deliver a set of words which express concern and action being taken. It doesn’t have to be very long. It just needs to be delivered.


Some years ago I was covering the story of a death in a residential facility. When I rang the complex the woman on the switch was obviously under pressure and she insulted me, hanging up in my ear. When I arrived with my TV crew we were insulted again and had the gates locked on us. The more the other journalists and I attempted to gain a comment, the more the aged care facility management resisted.

In the end we had TV news helicopters flying above the facility to gather vision. For verbal comment we interviewed family members of those inside the facility. Their comments about the facility were not complimentary.

Without much effort the facility management could have easily handled the situation in a way, which made them look professional, caring and pro-active. The opposite was the case. By the way, on that day we all met our deadline.

For more information contact Doug Weller at or visit his website: – see also Gerard Mansour’s state view on dealing with the media on page 25.

DOUG WELLER will be speaking at the Retirement Village Association’s (RVA) National Conference on how to work with the media. The AdvantAGE 07 Conference will be held in Melbourne from 13-15 November at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne, Victoria. For more information, visit

‘The bigger the issue, the bigger the story, the more interested you should be in speaking to the media.’

‘Doug Weller’

‘By the way, on that day we all met our deadline.’



Busting the Media Myths 1

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Here is the news

Here is the News

Here is the News

Published: February 1993

Publication: Herald Sun

Author: Editor

Words: 66

Image of article: Shown below


Here is the news

If the bubble and squeak of Today and The Big Breakfast isn’t your style, you can wake up to hard news with the ABC’s new morning show, First Edition, which premieres next Monday at 6.30am hosted by Doug Weller and Kate Dunstan.

“This won’t be the traditional morning program, we want to concentrate on news and current affairs without the chit-chat in between,” Weller told Spotlight.


Here is the news

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ABC Makes a New Start

ABC Makes a New Start

ABC Makes a New Start

Published: 15 February 1993

Publication: Herald Sun

Author: Editor

Words: 173

Image of article: Shown below


ABC makes a new start

The ABC’s first ‘serious’ morning news and current affairs program, 1st Edition finally went to air today.

Technical problems delayed the show’s debut by a week, but presenters Doug Weller and Kate Dunstan were excited that today’s show went without a hitch.

1st Edition which covered 52 items including the latest national and international news, a live interview cross to Canberra, checks on what newspapers said, and business and law reports, was difficult to produce.


ABC Makes a New Start

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ABC Close to 24 Hour News Plan

ABC Close to 24-Hour News Plan

ABC Close to 24-Hour News Plan

Published: 7 February 1993

Publication: Herald Sun TV Extra

Author: Editor

Words: 234

Image of article: Shown below


ABC Close to 24-Hour News Plan

The ABC will next week strengthen its bid for a 24-hour news service with Kate Dunstan and Doug Weller at the forefront.

Dunstan and Weller will co-host First Edition (premiering tomorrow week and running weekdays at 6.30am) and take the network a step closer to covering national and international news around the clock in a timeslot traditionally dominated by magazine-type shows.

“It will focus mainly on politics and business, and aim to break news,” Dunstan said. The show will also help set up the main news for the day to be built on.”

While the mother-of-two hopes First Edition will appeal to all viewers, she said it would be aimed at people “including politicians and businessmen who lead busy lives”.

“The program should prove popular with those who work early in the morning, and don’t want to spend their evening assessing what has happened throughout the day,” she said.

Dunstan said Australia would not be the only continent to benefit from the show. But she said the ABC was still to negotiate a telecast into Asia.

Dunstan has vast experience in the news-gathering arena, having started with The Age and later moving on to Channels Nine and Seven.

Her First Edition co-host Weller also had penty of experience in the media. His last post was as a political reporter for ABC Radio in Canberra, reporting from Parliament House for the AM and PM programs.


ABC Close to 24 Hour News Plan

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Saddam on toast

Saddam on Toast

Saddam on Toast

Published: 6 February 1993

Publication: TV Week

Author: Editor

Words: 441

Image of article: Shown below


Saddam on Toast

There is good news for viewers wanting to wake up to something serious on television.

First Edition starting on February 8, is the ABC’s early morning offering for 1993.

Don’t expect cute-puppy stories or beaming presenters – this is one hour of hard news.

The program will screen on weekdays at 6.30, meaning a 3.30 start for presenters Doug Weller and Kate Dunstan, who say the only bonus is not having to be merry in the morning.

“It is going to be a much more serious program than morning television has been to date.” Dunstan says. “It will be hard news, a lot of international news and a lot of politics. It will be a really serious program.”

There are those who may argue few people will want to fall out of bed to watch the woes of the world on television. But Weller has a different view and points to the success of ABC Radio’s morning news programs, which have a large and faithful audience.

“I don’t think what we are doing is really brave,” he says.

“There are a lot of serious-minded people who watch television at that time of day.”

“The audience we are after will be up at 6.30am and out the door by 7.30am. It’s going to be perfect for them.”

Executive producer Jill Singer, formerly with The 7.30 Report, hand picked the team, which includes reporters Kevin McQuillan and Lisa Backhouse with ABC Radio’s Pru Goward as a commentator.

Dunstan is a familiar face in the ABC TV’s newsroom, reading weekend bulletins and, in summer, the nightly seven o’clock news.

Earlier she was one of the original producers of the Seven Network’s Tonight Live news.

Jill Singer says First Edition will combine headline news with interviews and background stories.

She wants the program to set new ground rules for Australian morning television, which in the past has aimed mainly to entertain.

So what sort of news do you find at 3.30am?

The timeslot gives the first bite at international news and events developing in Canberra.

Singer also points to the way ABC radio news in the morning tends to set the agenda for the day’s news.

“If you listen to radio in the morning, a lot of it creates the news of the day,” she says.

“That’s what we want to do – it’s just that we’re on television.”

By the time First Edition goes to air the team will have had three weeks to make a series of pilots and organise their schedule.

Singer, Dunstan and Weller remain undaunted by their starting time.

Perhaps their zeal has something to do with the origins of First Edition?


Saddam on toast

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Is Washington ready for Doug?

Is Washington ready for Doug?

Is Washington ready for Doug?

Published: December 1989

Publication: Queensland Wireless News

Author: Unknown

Pages: Unknown

Words: 122

Image of article: Shown below


Is Washington Ready for Doug?

Sheer hard work and professionalism does pay on ABC Radio!

Brisbane staff, and no doubt many interstate, were thrilled last week to learn that Doug had been promoted to correspondent, Washington.

Doug is likely to take up his appointment in the early new year after seeing out the Queensland election campaign.

It’s a three year appointment and he will join another former Brisbane journo, John Cameron, in the US capital.

State rep Andrew Buchanan had this to say: “This is a great credit to Doug. We also see it as flattering to the Branch. Everyone appreciates the tremendous work Doug has performed for ABC Radio in his current affairs position, particularly over the last 12 months.” #


Is Washington ready for Doug?

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Weller's away to Washington

Weller’s away to Washington

Weller’s away to Washington

Published: 16 December 1989

Publication: Gold Coast Bulletin

Author: Editor

Words: 84

Image of article: Shown below


Weller’s away to Washington

ABC Radio’s Queensland chief Doug Weller will take up a senior position as Washington foreign correspondent early in the new year.

The three-year posting is considered the pinnacle of any ABC reporting career.

Weller is a Queensland political reporter with ABC’s AM, The World Today and PM.

In five years of current affairs experience at the ABC, Weller has worked closely with the Joh for PM campaign through to Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s demise, the Fitzgerald Report and the rise and fall of Mike Ahern.


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Overseas Posting

Overseas Posting

Overseas Posting

Published: December 1989

Publication: Unknown

Author: Unknown

Pages: Unknown

Words: 236

Image of article: Shown below


ABC RADIO, known for its excellent coverage of overseas events, is currently shuffling its correspondents around the bureaux.

The Washington job, vacated by Warwick Beutler, is to be filled by Doug Weller, who has been prominent in the coverage of politics in Queensland.

Agnes Warren will become the first ever woman ABC correspondent in London when she takes over from John Highfield. Warren joins the other two London correspondents, Peter Cave and Michael Dodd. Highfield is coming back to Australia to be Radio’s foreign editor.

And what about Warwick Beutler? Well, the Canberra current affairs job still has not been decided yet. However, I have it on good authority that Beutler is a strong contender for the position.

Also up for grabs later in the year are the Asian postings. In the near future there will be changes in Bangkok, Beijing, New Delhi, and Tokyo.

According to Ian Wolfe, controller of information programs (radio), ABC policy is to turn over the overseas offices much more than before.

“In the past, people frequently went to overseas posts and stayed a long time,” he said. “Now we try to share them around as much as possible and keep people on the move.

“One of the big things we offer at the ABC is the opportunity of an overseas posting. We have so many good reporters it’s wrong to say that just one or two people should be overseas.”


Overseas Posting

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Corporate Media Services Reciprocal Links for Articles Events and Conferences

Articles Courses Events and Conferences

Corporate Media Services in Articles, Courses, Events and Conferences

Corporate Media Services Reciprocal Links for Articles Events and ConferencesCorporate Media Services has been involved in many different courses, events, workshops, seminars and conferences. Here we provide a list of some of the links where Corporate Media Services and Doug Weller we have been featured online.

AMA Tasmania – TasTalk Magazine Leadership and Media Training (2.6MB Download)

The 2nd Annual National Higher Education Communication Officers’ Conference 2012

Australian Human Rights Commission Living Spirit Muslim Women and Human Rights Project

Courses Directory – lists courses available

Economic Development Australia Conference 2010

First Post – News Blog

GMA – Handling the Media

Institute of Public Administration Australia 2011 Critical Stakeholder Management Series

RMIT University – PR Media Training Course for the School of Applied Communication

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Doug Weller

Doug Weller

Doug Weller

Director and Senior Media Trainer

Media Training Specialist, Consultant, Educator, Strategic Adviser, Broadcaster and Journalist

Founder and Director of Corporate Media Services Pty Ltd

BA Journalism (Distinction) / Graduate – Australian Institute of Radio and Television Production

Certificate IV in Training & Assessment

Doug Weller is an Australian media training specialist.

Doug’s roles have included Bureau Chief, Executive Producer, Editor, Chief of Staff, National Reporter, National Television and Radio Presenter and Newsreader, ABC Washington Correspondent, ABC Canberra Correspondent and lecturer in Journalism.

His skills, knowledge, networks and experience have been gathered from specialist media roles in Australia, America and the Asia Pacific Region representing broadcasters, state governments, corporate organisations, executive networks, statutory bodies, community enterprises, universities and training organisations.

His practical and driven approach, combined with extensive media insight has been utilised by Australian and international organisations. Doug’s expertise has helped clients effectively manage this fast moving, unpredictable and powerful medium that can easily ruin an individual or organisation’s reputation.

Doug constantly sources innovative ideas and techniques from his Australian and international connections across print, radio, television, online, social networks and new media outlets.

A strong supporter of the Australian media industry, Doug judges various awards and provides expert advice to several committees for higher education in the field of Journalism.

Doug imparts his knowledge and provides strategies and advice to empower people to successfully control their message and display calm, confident leadership when dealing with the media.

Career Highlights

ABC Correspondent – Washington D.C.
Television News Anchor – ABC First Edition
Political Reporter – National Press Gallery Canberra
Lecturer in Journalism – RMIT University
Executive Producer – ABC Asia Pacific
National Reporter – ABC TV Sydney
Bureau Chief – AM/PM Programs (QLD)


2019 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment
1996 – 2008 Quill Awards Judge
Best New Speaker Award (Southern Region) – (TEC)
Resource Speaker Excellence Award – (TEC)

Foreign Training

1999 Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City TV – Presentation Skills Training
2001 Indonesia TVRI – Presentation Skills Training
2003 Indonesia Metro TV – Presentation Skills Training
2005 China The General Administration of Media and Publication
(GAMP) – Senior Management Training
2005 Indonesia TVRI – Presentation Skills Training
2006 Indonesia – IASTP 111 – Print Journalism Training Project

External Training

Doug Weller teaches the PR Media Training Course for the School of Applied Communication for RMIT University in 2009

Photo Gallery

Doug Weller at 4KQ
Doug Weller Newsroom

Doug Weller Newsroom
Doug Weller Qantas
Doug Weller Inside Whitehouse
Doug Weller Inside Whitehouse
Doug Weller Airforce One

Doug Weller Studio

Doug Weller Press Room

Doug Weller First Edition

Doug Weller Helicopter Cockpit

Doug Weller ABC Helicopter

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Our History

Corporate Media Services History

Corporate Media Services Our HistoryJournalist, Doug Weller, founded Corporate Media Services in 2005 after a distinguished career in journalism spanning more than 35 years.

Doug’s journalistic expertise and extensive insight into the operations of the media and presentation style are of great advantage to clients.

Experienced and knowledgeable Corporate Media Services’ trainers keep abreast of the changing media landscape and impart their skills and wisdom to clients through discussions about the media, media trends, practical exercises and personal experience.

Corporate Media Services clients include a number of leading commercial, educational and service organisations, both in the public and private sectors. You can read some of their testimonials, feedback and reviews here.

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