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Life Would Be Easy Without Other People

Come on, admit it!

Just occasionally you’ve considered how much easier it would be if one troublesome person was removed from your life.

That’s why one of my favourite speakers, American authoress Connie Podesta, struck a chord with a best-selling book.

The book is entitled: Life would be easier if it weren’t for other people.

People with different behaviours, different values, different attitudes just get in the way.

They need to be removed!

Thoughts vs. actions

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Last week US President Donald Trump did just that to the media.

Through his Press Secretary Matt Spicer, he excluded a number of journalists from a media briefing.

Why? Because they keep saying the wrong thing.

Among those left behind in the media like naughty schoolchildren, excluded from class, were the CNN and BBC reporters.

Like the others on the banned list, they are fully-accredited White House journalists.

The favoured few were led into Mr Spicer’s room to be told the President’s latest thoughts in his media release.

Now whatever you think of the media, this move is counter-productive.

The power of the media

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The impact of the media is enormous.

This is a point we make every day in our media training courses, run mainly from our Glasgow studios.

But whether in Dubai, Madrid, New York, Singapore, Nice, Lagos, Tibilisi, Baku, London, Edinburgh or wherever we’ve run such courses over the past 28 years, the message has been the same.

Plug into the power of the media and let it do its job.

If you’ve ever had an electric shock, you’ll remember the moment as frightening and sore.

That’s what it’s like when a newspaper, radio station or TV channel is critical of you or your organisation or just your viewpoint.

But the electricity will keep flowing, regardless of what you think of it.

The trick is to harness the energy, to let it power your argument.

The media will report what you’re saying.

Do you want them reporting your argument, or just the fact that you’ve banned them?

In which case, everyone is denied hearing your argument.

A history of poor media handling

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Sir Alex Ferguson

When Sir Alex Ferguson was the Manchester United manager, he went for several years refusing to give post-match interviews to the BBC.

He’d apparently taken offence with a BBC programme that cast doubts on his son’s business dealings.

For years, BBC viewers who were Man United fans were denied the chance to hear the boss’s views.

Sam Allardyce dealt with the BBC media attention similarly, apparently over the same programme.

And way back in the 1980s, I was banned from reporting at Tannadice stadium in Dundee by the then firebrand Dundee United Manager Jim McLean.

I’d annoyed him by asking an on-air question of the then Hearts Manager, Alex MacDonald.

“Do you worry you might get to the Hampden Cup Final and, like Dundee United in the past, lose your bottle on the big day?”

(Under McLean, United lost in all six Scottish Cup finals, without winning any).

Mr McLean phoned me at the BBC, five minutes later, furious.

life would be easy- media training- pink elephant comms- in a huff

“Don’t tell me my players lose their bottle!”

A week later, he was quoted in the Daily Record newspaper.

He said he didn’t know what went wrong when his team got to the National Stadium for cup finals, but perhaps they just “lost their bottle”.

The trouble with the media is that they may just say something so close to what you’re thinking that it hurts.

That’s the risk you take when you become a football manager or US President.

In that position, you need to put up a more compelling argument to win people over, rather silence the critic.

In many cases, the media is simply carrying the message of somebody else’s criticism.

Create a compelling argument

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Pink Elephant Media Training Studio

With just a few hours of training, we find those who attend our media training courses can win the argument by the power of words and the conviction of belief.

I’d like to hear President Trump argue his case more convincingly for a Mexican wall, an immigration policy or whatever else he’s proposing.

That way I’ll know if I agree with him or agree with his critics.

But if he simply bans those fully-accredited to do that job on behalf of us, the audience, we’ll just have to guess what his thinking is.

And that simply gives rise to what we may call “misunderstanding”, or what the President would call “fake news”.

life would be easy- media training- pink elephant comms- fake news

If you want to get a point of view across, plug into the power of the media.

Let the media carry your scrutinised message across the world.

I accept that life would be easier if it weren’t for other people.

But there will always be other people around, many with different views.

So we need to learn to win the argument rather than ban the person reporting another point of view.

 

Bill McFarlan is Executive Chairman of  Pink Elephant Communications in Glasgow.

You can view his full profile here

Photo credit: PhotoAtelierWest Midlands PoliceTakashi(aes256)Daniel HughesAndrea SartoratiChristoph Scholz via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

2nd March 2017 Featured in: Blog By:

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