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HOW NOT TO MANAGE A MEDIA CRISIS
If the BBC’s Watchdog wants to hold you to account, you’d better be ready. This month the programme did a comprehensive hatchet job on Pontins holiday camps, where it discovered filthy and disgusting conditions in shabby, unrefurbished chalets. Pontins, which was recently taken over by Britannia Hotels, put up spokesperson Eileen Downey, who got just about everything wrong, when trying to defend the indefensible to Anne Robinson.
Instead of apologising and promising to put things right sharpish, she went on the warpath and accused the programme of being ‘premature’. Grim-faced, she said that the new owners were in the middle of a big programme of refurbishment, and that most customers hadn’t complained. There is a big difference between ‘un-refurbished’ and ‘filthy’, however, and even the sight-impaired viewer with thick, dirty specs could see that. The equally grim-faced Ms Robinson cut off the interview after one and a half minutes as she could see she wasn’t getting anywhere.
If you ever find yourself in this sort of ghastly situation, the key is to put your tin hat on, then try as hard as humanly possible to come over as reasonable and sympathetic rather than aggressive. Apologise and see it as an opportunity to explain how hard you are working to put things right. In short, Ms Downey needed good media training – big-time. If you fear finding yourself in a similar position, call us. The interview can currently be seen (slightly iffy quality) on YouTube – she’s towards the end.
HAD IT UP TO HERE WITH DULL PLACED ARTICLES IN TRADE MAGAZINES?
We can help. We have recently devised a highly interactive full day course for up to six people for one of our clients, aimed at technical experts who have to contribute occasional articles to trade magazines (or the nationals, for that matter) but lack the necessary writing skills to ‘lift’ the material.
The course includes:
- Understanding the Editor’s mindset – what are they looking for?
- Avoiding the classic mistakes of most placed articles
- Structuring the material
- The art of the intro
- Sharpening up the writing style
- Common punctuation & grammar mistakes
It struck us that many other organisations, particularly in the financial sector, could benefit. Let us know if you’re interested
PRESENTATION TIP OF THE MONTH: Better Hand Gestures
When giving a presentation, you do not want your hand and arm movements to be distracting. Try to keep them by your side or neutrally in front of you unless using them to make a point. Don’t wave your arms around. Avoid putting them behind your back. The standard advice is not to put your hands in your pockets, as this can look to casual or disrespectful.
For me this depends on the circumstances and should not be an absolute. In a more informal setting some people just look a lot more comfortable with one hand (certainly not both) in a pocket, while they occasionally gesture with the other. The gestures should be around chest level, and should enhance the point you are trying to make. You don’t want them to look random, or – worse – turn yourself into a fidget.