Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Fans of 'media as a blood sport' have had an awesome week with Emma Alberici’s Lateline biffo followed by Tony Abbott’s infamous shirtfront comment.
But for those who think strategically and recognise that journalists are judge and jury in the Court of Public Opinion, it has been the week from hell. And a great case study of what not to do.
These interviews show that unless you’re thinking strategically about the impressions you are creating, you’re wasting your time. Or worse, trashing your reputation.
Alberici's Wassim Doureih interview was a great case study of what not to do. Interestingly it wasn’t his media skills which were lacking, it was his judgment.
Technically he was sound, but he was arguing the indefensible. Public opinion isn’t hugely in favour of seven year olds holding severed heads.
The only sensible strategic aim was to have used the interview to try to win public support for his organisation’s vision and values. To achieve this he needed to demonstrate empathy and compassion, to distance himself from the atrocity and focus on the underlying issues.
Instead, his belligerence and hostility left us with the impression they were a pack of thugs and bullies, and an organisation which should be proscribed. And maybe they are.
Which brings us to the PM’s ‘Shirtfront’ comment.
That one word single handedly destroyed any favourable impressions created by his leadership in the MH17 disaster. And left him a laughing stock on the world stage.
The predictable and exquisite Russian response was gloriously understated.
“Shirtfront is a term not often used in Diplomacy”.
A war of words which left Vlad Putin looking statesmanlike and our PM scrubbing egg from his face.
How do you avoid a ‘Shirtfront’ moment?
Drop your ego and focus on how your testimony impacts the Court of Public Opinion. If you can’t advance your cause don’t engage.
Remember Trolls will always get flamed in the end. So bullying and threatening is never a winning strategy.
If you want to be heard be gracious. When you show genuine empathy and respect people will listen.