What can media spokespeople learn from Trump and May?31st January, 2017 by Simon Mowbray
As seasoned media trainers working on behalf of leading brand owners to coach and train everyone from brand managers to marketing directors, MDs and CEOs, it’s not often that we turn to the world of politics to learn lessons about how to give credible interviews.
After all, politicians have always been the great evaders of the truth, as demonstrated by Prime Minister Theresa May on BBC’s Andrew Marr show recently when she refused four times to answer whether she knew about a Trident nuclear missile malfunction ahead of a Parliamentary debate.
However, there are a couple of trends going on in the world of political interviews that are currently worthy of note, and in the first case Mrs May provides another valuable lesson from which we can all learn…
MIND YOUR LANGUAGE
One of the first things we tell all spokespeople who pass through our studio is to use their own language, carefully craft engaging key messages that will resonate with their audiences and, most importantly, speak in the way they want to (with the caveat of us sense checking what they’re saying before they meet the media).
We also tell them never to let anyone put words in their mouth.
Yet, the buzzword of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union – ‘Brexit’ – is seemingly bandied about by politicians of all persuasions whether they are for, against or neutral in the UK’s referendum decision.
Let’s be clear – Brexit is a negative word. It was coined by a section of the media that enthusiastically promoted a break from the European Union.
So to volunteer the term so openly and frequently in interview after interview when you’re the commander in chief of tricky exit negotiations with our European brethren seems a little unwise, to say the least, particularly if you campaigned (albeit limply) to stay in the Union in the first place.
For example, what’s wrong with talking about the job she and her European counterparts have in ‘ensuring we work together to safeguard both British and European interests as we negotiate an amicable departure from the Union’?
So much better than compounding the negativity of ‘Brexit’ with such disastrous proclamations as ‘Brexit means Brexit’ (Brexit doesn’t actually mean anything so the irony of this particular phrase is almost too good to be true). And who can forget how the government is apparently now striving for a ‘red, white and blue Brexit’ (as a former hack, the press corps won’t have been able to believe their luck when she said that, believe me).
Moving briefly across the pond…
A NEW WAY TO TRUMP YOUR COMPETITORS
Few can deny that Donald Trump’s astonishing use of the media to become an unlikely 45th President of the United States of America is worthy of note.
But what can we learn from his extraordinary use of language, proclamation and social media to get his messages across to an often disbelieving public?
From the point of view of the world of business, lifestyle, leisure and consumer goods, the reality is that we probably aren’t going to learn much. But it will no doubt be interesting finding out.
In the meantime, if you want to know what Mrs May should have told Marr about Trident on live television then give us a call.