Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Media Coach 24th July 2015

Two thousand speakers in Washington; Speaking across the Atlantic; Taylor Swift; Bill Cosby; Gladstone’s Rules; Poorly-trained Interviewers; Become a specialist; An interview with Carolyn Strauss; Music from Ashton Lane

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Friday, July 17, 2015

The Media Coach 17th July 2015

National Speakers Association Convention; The Newseum; Mhairi Black; Finley Quaye; Go beyond the finish; Plan for a long media career; Repurposing your content; An interview with Jolene Jang; Music from Jim Boggia

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Media Coach 10th July 2015

Sport and News; Speakers gather in Washington; Drones and Crop Circles; A Russian Straight Flag; Are you Interesting?; Seven ways to ruin a media release; Four ways to benefit from blogging; An interview with Craig Price; Music from Lee Robert

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Media Coach 3rd July 2015

Happy Independence Day; A message in a bottle; Val Doonican; Kanye West; can you do five minutes?; How Dare you!; Don’t worry, be happy; An interview with Paul Cook; Music from Robbie Boyd

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Media Coach 26th June 2015

Kenny Harris remembered; Barack Obama heckled; Ben Affleck; I could never be a Speaker; Making your own Videos; The Social Media Marathon; An interview with Kenny Harris; Music from Emily Barden

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

The MediaCoach 19th June 2015

It’s tough on stage; Would you eat a dausage?; Peter Firmin; Doom Bar or not?; One Two Three; Keep your mileage high; Serve and Volley; An interview with Adam Shaw; Music from the 1957 Tail-fin Fiasco

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Friday, June 12, 2015

In support of Kay Burley

Kay Burley is currently the subject of a petition aimed at having her sacked from Sky News, as well as the subject of over a thousand complaints to OFCOM. She's also been called many names in social media posts, usually in terms reserved only for women. The trigger for this was an interview on Sky News with Nick Varney, chief executive of Merlin Entertainment, following the dreadful accident on a roller coaster at Alton Towers.

I've watched the interview several times. As a fellow journalist who specialises in training CEOs to cope with crisis interviews, I think Ms Burley did nothing wrong. The interview could have been shorter, but that's not Ms Burley's fault, since she was no doubt being directed from the gallery, and being told to keep going.

Mr Varney spoke well, and expressed his concern and sympathy for the victims. However, he also referred to introducing "another level of safety", which begged the question as to why that wasn't already in place. Any professional journalist would have probed him on that point.

However, I suspect this is more about another issue - Ms Burley's gender. If the interview had been conducted by a male journalist, Paxman-style, I don't think there would have been a similar outcry. The fact that many of the insults refer to her as a "bitch", "cow' or even worse, indicate that people feel that being a woman and being an assertive interviewer is unaceptable.

It's perhaps telling that when Jeremy Clarkson admitted to punching a member of his production team, a million people signed a petition to have him reinstated. In 1997, Jeremy Paxman was widely praised for asking former Home Secretary Michael Howard the same question fourteen times in a row. However, Ms Burley's repeated questioning of safety standards following a serious accident is seen as intrusive.

It seems to me that the wave of criticism has more than a whiff of sexism about it. Sky News should express their confidence in Ms Burley, and ask her to get on with her job of holding public figures to account. 

Image credit: Creative Commons

The Media Coach 12th June 2015

20 steps is back!; Who owns the Sun?; Joachim de Posada; Sir Tim Hunt; Why Speakers need a Bra; What is News?; Share and Share Alike; An interview with Andy Murray (no, not that one); Music from Nugent and Belle.

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Thursday, June 04, 2015

The Media Coach 5th June 2015

Sepp Blatter resigns - did the sponsors push him?; Charles Kennedy; Eddie McGuire; On the button; Picking the right messenger; Show and Tell; An interview with John Richardson of the Coffee Boys; Music from Robbie Boyd

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Media Coach 29th May 2015

A hotbed of corruption at FIFA; J K Rowling; Guy Claxton; Three checklists for speakers; It’s Gary from The Guardian - have you got a minute?’ What’s your take?; An interview with Jo Howson; Music from Mick Wilson.

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FIFA - a reputation in ruins?

It's been an open secret for years that football's world governing body, FIFA, has long been a hotbed of corruption. The award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, a country with no football heritage, where it's hot enough in the summer to fry eggs on the pavement, raised more than a few eyebrows. 

Of course, Sepp Blatter, the dear leader, has distanced himself from the latest, and all previous, corruption allegations. I'm not suggesting for a moment that he is criminally liable, but he has been on the scene of the crime for a very long time. He's presided over the debacle, and has therefore at the very least been incompetent and negligent. It's time for him to retire.

However, he has been Machiavellian in his use of FIFA's largesse to the smaller nations, realising that The Cook Islands (population 24,000) has the same number of votes as the USA, and is much easier to get onside with grants for football development. He's not only given money, but also power to many countries who adore him for it.

The departure of Mr Blatter would deal with one major complaint, at least from Europe and North America. But the problem runs much deeper. Untangling the FIFA web of payments, favours, and even bribes will take months or years. I wonder if FIFA can ever be made fit for purpose?

The real question though, is how much does it matter to the sponsors? They hold the key. If global corporations decide that their reputations are being damaged by association with FIFA, they will move their funding elsewhere. That's a big "if" too. The World Cup, for all its problems, is still a huge global event, and most people are more interested in the tournament itself rather than how it came to be held in an unexpected venue. Only if FIFA implodes will change occur.

My guess is that Mr Blatter, even if re-elected, won't see out his term. He may resign, or be forced out. In the longer term though, I suspect the task of cleaning out the filth from the Augean Stables at FIFA is something that even Hercules couldn't accomplish overnight.

Photo credit: Creative Commons 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Liz Truss - not the best Tory supporter

Liz Truss was wheeled out to represent the government on BBC's Radio4 Today programme, in the important back-of-the-news 8.10am slot. Alas, she turned out to be evasive, unhelpful and somewhat taken aback by  the fact that she was being asked questions about the Queen's Speech, the contents of which had already been widely briefed to journalists.

When asked about the repeal of the European Human Rights Act, that is known to have been delayed for a year or so, she said: “What I’m saying is that we can’t talk about the entire contents of the Queens Speech the morning before it’s given…. I’m not speculating about it one way or the other; what I’m saying is it’s a clear manifesto commitment from the Conservative party.”

What an utterly pointless answer. I'm sure Ms Truss was doing her best, but it was a complete shambles. She only gave a firm answer to one question - she will be supporting the reintroduction of fox-hunting. That's all we learned from the entire interview, and it wasn't even news, since she's said it before.

Most surprisingly, she said several times "We don't actually know the contents of the Queen's Speech". Really? She's a Government minister. Is she not in the loop?  It also sounded as though she was reading a script, which should have been easy to conceal since she wasn't live in the BBC Studio, but down the line in Westminster.

Ms Truss was either completely evasive or very badly briefed. Either way it's a very poor piece of spin. 

Of course, she's hardly had a glittering career in oratory, as Have I Got News For You pointed out:

So at least she's doing something for the satire industry, not to mention having a name that's handy for a punning headline. Not all bad then...

Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Media Coach 22nd May 2015

Unlimited riches, or not; Up Periscope; Black Sabbath; Aidy Ward; Picking the Best Target; Waving the flag; 10 questions to ask a social media expert; An interview with Max Dubiel of Black Sheep Coffee; Music from Kate McRae

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Thomas Cook - how to ruin a reputation in three easy steps

If you were in the business of providing people with great experiences, you'd probably work pretty hard to make sure expectations were exceeded. If things went wrong, you'd probably do everything in your power to look after your customers, wouldn't you? Well, you're not Thomas Cook. The holiday company is turning into a case study of how to damage a corporate reputation. 

Back in 2006, a family bought a holiday in Corfu, through Thomas Cook. It ended in tragedy, with two small children dead and their parents critically ill, caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty boiler. The hotel was found to be responsible, and four people were convicted of offences. No-one from Thomas Cook was found to be liable. That's the legal position. However, there's another very important issue - Thomas Cook's reputation. Here are three massive mistakes made by the company.

1) No apology

A statement from Thomas Cook says that an apology was sent to the parents a few days ago. That's a few days ago, over eight years after the tragedy. However, the parents claim not to have received the recent apology, even though Thomas Cook gave copies to reporters. 

2) No empathy

The silence from Thomas Cook, and the refusal of their representatives to answer questions in court creates an image of a company that doesn't care about their customers. It's likely that their lawyers advised them not to say anything that might incriminate them, so they said nothing at all.

3) No restorative action

Last week, it was revealed that Thomas Cook had received £3.5Million in compensation from the hotel - ten times what the parents received. The payment was in part for buying consultancy to limit the damage to their reputation - a huge irony. It would have been easy for them to hand that money to the parents, or to a charity of their choice. Nothing can compensate for the death of a child, but keeping a large payment which dwarfs the amount received by parents is simply crass.

The rules of the game are really simple:
  • Express sorrow and empathy early (that doesn't mean it's your fault)
  • People take the highest priority - go and talk to them
  • Communicate often
  • Take control and act appropriately
  • Provide help and assistance
  • Perform an act of goodwill 
I suspect that anyone looking to book a holiday through Thomas Cook will be thinking very carefully. I hope the directors at Thomas Cook have a careful think too.