Friday, January 23, 2015

The Media Coach 23rd January 2015

Back from Bulgaria; Oscar speech competition; Jon Stewart; The drugs don’t work; Are you suffering from TMI?: Can I make my point?; The great pretenders; An interview with Blake Snyder. Music from the 1957 tail-fin fiasco.

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The Media Coach 16th January 2015

David Cameron says no; High-level speaker coaching; Push-button cocktails; Steven Emerson; Don’t be a tease; Give me news now; The ten rules of anti-social media; An interview with Nick Bradley; Music from The 1957 Tail-Fin Fiasco

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Friday, January 09, 2015

The Media Coach 9th January 2015

A dark week for journalism; Virtual Speaking; Speaker Coaching; Charlie Hebdo; Fox News; Storyboarding your speech; Not being there; Who do you know who knows something?;  An interview with Judson Laipply; Music from Geoff Gibbons

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Does social media help conspiracy theories to flourish?

There have always been conspiracy theories. In living memory, the assassination of President John F Kennedy and the moon landings have filled millions of column inches.

In recent years, there seem to be more and more conspiracy theories (and what's worse, more gullible souls who believe them).  I was at a dinner party recently when the topic of conspiracies arose. To my astonishment, more than half of the people there agreed that "the moon landings were faked", and three people were adamant that the 9/11 attacks were "orchestrated by the CIA".

Notwithstanding the fact that I need to be more discerning about accepting dinner party invites, the "evidence" that was quoted was YouTube videos, Facebook groups, and Twitter tweets. Hardly the sort of stuff to stand up in court, but obviously sufficient to convince some people.

So here's my take on conspiracy theories. It's hard for each of us to keep a secret. It's harder if three or four people know. It becomes increasingly difficult if thousands of people are sworn to secrecy, to the point that it becomes impossible. What seems to happen is that half-baked theories based on grainy videos are posted and discussed online. Reason and logic, not to mention powers of common sense, seem to leave some people who add to the debates. Before you know it, large numbers of people are believing the impossible.

Here are a few things as a reminder:
  • Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969, and so did a number of fellow astronauts
  • No-one has ever been abducted by aliens
  • Vapour trails from planes are just trails of vapour
  • The 9/11 attacks were a terrorist incident
  • There is no secret world government run by the Bilderberg group, the Illuminati or even shape-changing lizards
Everything is fine. Don't worry about it.

Image credit - Creative Commons license

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Media Coach 2nd January 2015

It’s a whole new year; Speaking predictions; A crisis handled well; Facebook get it wrong; Some speaking dos and don’ts; Block and Bridge; Three cool Twitter Tools; An interview with Sir Ranulph Fiennes; Music from Jim Boggia

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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

MediaMasters and MediaMugs of 2014

In my regular ezine, I highlight superb media performers and absolute dunces for a weekly accolade. Now that 2014 is at a close, I've been reviewing the fifty selections to find the top three star performers and those who should never be allowed near a microphone again. Here, in traditional reverse order, are my selections:

MediaMaster of the Year

Third place
I'm obliged to my good friend Paul Cook for spotting the third placed MediaMaster. Paul went to see Katy Perry in concert a few days ago in London (yes, he's allowed me to say that). He told me that in the middle of her set, she sat at the front of the stage, holding a pint of beer, which she then tasted and admired. It was London Pride. Nice move. I bet she drinks Guinness in Dublin and Newcastle Brown in, er, Newcastle. OK, it's a little bit staged, but she's making much more of an effort to connect with the audience than performers who shout 'It's good to be back in [insert name of town here]"

Second place

A political MediaMaster in second place (yes, I know, but it's my call). Although Alex Salmond lost the independence referendum in Scotland, and resigned his posts as leader of the Scottish National Party and as First Minister, he still performed extremely well on the media. Having marginally lost the first debate with Alistair Darling, he stormed back to easily best him in the second. He also behaved with great dignity in defeat. With his new political ambitions, we haven's seen the last of him. 

The winner  

The late parliamentary sketch writer, Simon Hoggart. I admired him for his wit, intelligence and the fact that he had the greatest respect for the institution of parliament. Even his targets loved him, since he was never spiteful, but spot-on and incredibly funny. He described corpulent Tory MP Nicholas Soames thus: "You could tow him out to a village fete and charge children 50p to bounce on him." After a speech by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott he said: "And the English language slunk through its own back door and drew the curtains." And of the unusual hairstyle of a Tory MP, he said "It's as if My Little Pony had been in a terrible accident and its tail had been draped over Mr Fabricant's head". Hearing the news of Mr Hoggart's death, Michael Fabricant changed his Twitter image to a My Little Pony in tribute. Wonderful.

MediaMug of the Year

Third place

Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, gave his final party conference speech before the 2015 General Election. As usual, he spoke with few references to his notes. Unfortunately, by his own admission, he forgot two important sections of his speech, about the budget deficit and immigration. His error was noticed immediately by reporters who had been sent advance copies of the script. Though Mr Milliband tried to make light of it, it's an embarrassment that will return to haunt him in the election campaign.

Second place

The managing director of John Lewis, Andy Street, won't be too welcome in and around Paris for a while. In a recent event for entrepreneurs, he said France was "finished", adding: "I have never been to a country more ill at ease. Nothing works and nobody cares about it." He went on; "If you've got investments in French businesses, get them out quickly." Warming to his theme, branded the Gare du Nord in Paris "the squalor pit of Europe", in contrast to London's revamped St Pancras station at the other end of the Eurostar line. He later said the comments were not meant to be taken seriously but that he "clearly went too far". How true.

The winner

Gerard Depardieu. His media interview claims are so ridiculous it's hard to believe he even said them (but he did). He claimed that despite having had a heart bypass operation, he drinks fourteen bottles of wine a day. Yes, fourteen. He also said that it doesn't make him drunk, and if he feels a little woozy, a ten-minute nap followed by a glass of rose wine and he's fine again. He took Russian citizenship in January 2013 as a protest against France's 75 per cent tax on the rich, and recently came under fire for suggesting Ukraine was part of Russia. He's also been banned from Air France for urinating in the aisle of a plane. Just occasionally, words are not enough.

Here are the lists again:

MediaMaster: 1. Simon Hoggart  2. Alex Salmond  3. Katy Perry

MediaMug:  1. Gerard Depardieu  2. Andy Street  3. Ed Miliband 

So there we have it. No gongs, no trophies. Just my personal selection. What's your view?

Image credits: Creative Commons licence

Friday, December 19, 2014

Olympic pools, buses, Wales and football pitches. Towards a new system of measurement.

According to a report this morning on BBC Radio 5 Live, Britons drink the equivalent of over two hundred Olympic-sized swimming pools of alcohol over the Christmas period. Comparisons like this are used all the time by news outlets, in order to put statistics in terms that we can understand. But does it really help that much? How big is an Olympic-sized swimming pool anyway? (2.5 million litres, in case you don't know).
There are a number of common units in use in the media. Here's a guide:

Double-decker bus  Used to measure height, or sometimes length. Why anyone should be able to envisage a stack of buses is a mystery.

Wales Used for the area of islands, icebergs and the size of asteroids.

Belgium See Wales. Used for larger areas (did you know that Belgium was larger than Wales?)

Isle of Wight See Wales. Very handy for asteroids in particular

Football pitches Used for smaller areas and sometimes length. Even stranger, sometimes height. 

Wembley Stadium Sometimes filled with stuff ("enough rubbish to fill Wembley stadium several times over") or people ("ten Wembley stadiums full of people are affected")

I think it's time we moved to a new system that makes more sense to everyone, so here are my recommendations:

London Eye Used for height. Many people have seen it, and many have been up in it, so they know what it's like to look down from it. "Three times the height of the London Eye" makes real sense.

"Strictly" dance floor Used for areas, replacing football pitches. Far more people watch Strictly than sit in football stadiums these days.

Shopping Mall A replacement for Wembley stadium. OK, malls vary in size, but these comparisons are pretty vague at the best of times

Apple Store Used for volumes of stuff, replacing Olympic swimming pools. I rather like the idea of "enough PCs to fill an Apple Store"

Alas, as for really large areas, I'm stumped. Any ideas?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Media Coach 19th December 2014

So this is Christmas; Time for a review; The Apprentice; MediaMaster and MediaMug of the Year; Deliver it, change it , deliver it; Say it, say again and again; Get more engaged in 2015; An interview with Katie Bulmer-Cooke; Music from Out of the Rain.

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Media Coach 12th December 2014

'Tis the season for reality shows; Jeopardy; Commander Chris Hadfield; Sergei Chaban; How to create a cracking speech; What you can and can’t do; Three nifty social media updates; An interview with Rebecca Morgan; Music from Jim Boggia

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

The Media Coach 5th December 2014

YouTube breaks; End of the Human race?; A great headline; Ian McLagan; Mario Balotelli; Interruptions and Heckles; Has something gone wrong?; How to avoid friends and followers; An interview with Paul Cook; Music from Katie Sutherland

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Media Coach 28th November 2014

Back from Malaysia; A cricketing tragedy; Buy the Band Aid single; PD James; Whoops Twitter; Paint a Picture; Disarm the Loaded Question; Take it Easy; An interview with Susan Luke; Music from Mick Wilson

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Friday, November 21, 2014

The Media Coach 21st November 2014

A speaking trip to Malaysia; Missing flight MH370; Mike Nichols; Bill Cosby; Mind your (stage) manners; Don’t get battered and fried; Be relevant, be original, be there; An interview with Krishna Muthaly, Music from Band Aid

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Comet FIFA data shows "astonishing level of corruption" say analysts

Analysts are struggling to make sense of the data being sent back from Comet FIFA by the Garcia probe, which has landed at the heart of the mystery-shrouded body. Despite gathering and sending back a huge amount of information, the Garcia probe has suffered from being in the shade of Mount Blatter, the highest mountain on the comet. As a result, there has been an "astonishing level of corruption" according to most analysts.

One of the analysts said "A real problem was getting the probe to work at all. Nothing sticks to Comet FIFA, so it's very hard to keep the probe in place. It's possible that it may shut down due to the hostile conditions on FIFA, which is continually shrouded in a blanket of fog, thickest around Mount Blatter.

It's taken many years to get to the heart of FIFA. Analysts have been speculating about the toxic clouds around Mount Blatter, suggesting that they have created an environment that defies the laws seen elsewhere in the universe. "Some very weird things happen on FIFA" said one US investigator "We've never seen the level of powerful forces that exist there, which seem to deflect all external threats"

Though most analysts are shocked and stunned, the Eckert institute in Germany has gone against the trend. Their project COVERUP (Calling Out Virtually Each Rumour as Utterly Preposterous) has produced a summary saying that all is normal on Comet FIFA, and everyone else is wrong.

While analysis of the data from Comet FIFA continues, the body continues to thunder through the universe, destroying everything it its path. Analysts fear that it might one day destroy Planet Football. "We suspect the such a comet once crashed into the earth, causing the extinction of honest football administrators" said an analyst. "We hope it doesn't do the same to Planet Football".

Image credit Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

The Media Coach 14th November 2014

Techno-speaking; Misleading advice online; Neil Mullarkey; 100 years of film; A car vanishes; It’s really a conversation; Spoon collector monthly; Keeping it current; An interview with Ross Shafer; Music from Nugent & Belle

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