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


Information Only

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

Further Assistance

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

Ricky Muir struggles

Ricky Muir Fights Back

Ricky Muir struggles
By Doug Weller – Corporate Media Services

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Information Only

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

Further Assistance

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

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

n The Media Spotlight: James Packer and David Gyngell

In The Media Spotlight: James Packer and David Gyngell

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

Media big shots forget the media’s rules of engagement

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

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

It seems everyone wants to be a video journalist.

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

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

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

Media audiences love celebrity scandals

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

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

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

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

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

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

All is fair game in the media

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

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

The Packer – Gyngell Brawl

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

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

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

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

Media points to remember from this incident

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

Further Information

How the media covered the Packer/Gyngell Brawl

Information Only

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

Further Assistance

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

Make an email enquiry now… or call 1300 737 913