Oddly, I’ve never had any media training.
I say “oddly”, I was never a person designed or designated to be a spokesperson, although I did do a couple of spots on local radio. And student projects, on a variety of topics. And a mock tribunal I took part in in 2008 – which I really ought to write about sometime – was a media training session in disguise, after a fashion.
But I know the basics; have two or three points to get across and make sure you work them in to your answers, no matter how long the interview is. In the vernacular, be ‘on message’.
The trick is not to make all your points at once, in the first answer. Spread it out a bit, otherwise your interviewer will start to ask the awkward questions you don’t want to face because you forgot that they determine the length of the interview, not you.
What’s my line?
But as a media strategy, it only works if you get your messages across in moderation.
Consider this week’s phrase of choice, “strong, stable leadership”. As a soundbite it’s great. As a slogan, it’s great. When every MP and candidate uses it, it starts to grate. When Buzzfeed starts to count how many times Theresa May alone uses it, it becomes a joke. See also “long-term economic plan”. Even “coalition of chaos” is wearing thin.
Everyone remembers “Labour isn’t working” – but how many times was it actually deployed?
If the theme of the Conservative Party campaign is “Strong, stable leadership” then variations on that phrase need to be developed and adopted, so that its use is reserved when talking about actual leadership issues – not by backbench MPs trying to get re-elected. It makes you come across as dull, uncreative brown-nosers.
Hopefully, it’s just this week’s main theme. Hopefully, we won’t hear it endlessly over the next six weeks. Hopefully, Lynton Crosby has a few more lined up, so that by the end we’ll have a Conservative Party haiku of slogans.
Otherwise, it’s just annoying!
[Note: I can do a 7-5-7 haiku on this topic, but not a 5-7-5 one. Exercise left to the reader.]