Paxman

Top Tips for Surviving Aggressive Interviews

The tricks journalists use in an aggressive interview are small in number and well known; and in reality, really aggressive interviews are rare. But if you think your spokesperson or you could be facing aggression here is a checklist of things to do or think about.

1. Rehearse your messages 
As with all interviews there is a need for rehearsed, thought through messages. Always ensure there is something credible to say.

2. Tough questions 
Once you have your messages, work out what the tough questions are likely to be. Politicians and even senior bosses are in a much more difficult position than most because they can often be legitimately asked about a very wide range of subjects. For most others the scope is more limited and anything outside the scope can be ‘closed down’ by simply explaining you are not the right person to answer the question.Top tips for aggressive interviews

3. Work out the answers!
Now you have worked out the tough questions, work out the answers but keep them as short as possible. These are called ‘reactive lines’ and are different to your messages. You don’t offer a reactive line unless asked the question.

4. Don’t lie
The hardest ‘reactive lines’ are the ones where you can’t tell the truth and you can’t lie. In my experience there is always a way but it can take a few minutes to work it out. However tempting it is, never ever lie.

5. Beware the rabbit-punch
Beware the ‘rabbit punch’ question: a tough destabilising first question, often unexpectedly personal. It’s a technique that was often used by the now retired UK journalist, Jeremy Paxman. A couple of his classics: to politician and former cabinet minister Ann Widdecombe ‘Were you a little in love with Michael Howard?’ To the Iranian ambassador ‘Sir, your country is lying to us isn’t it’. To deal with this you need to respond briefly and if appropriate with wit and then move on to saying something credible and relevant.

Newsnights Jeremy Paxman perfected the 'rabbit-punch' question

Now retired, Jeremy Paxman perfected the ‘rabbit-punch’ question

6. Slow down
If the questions get tough, slow down your answers, it will give you more thinking time.

7. Avoid jargon 
Do not start using jargon and technical language; you will immediately loose the sympathy of the audience.

8. Be reasonable
Stay reasonable, even if the journalist isn’t, and be humble.

9. Say sorry 
If you have made a mistake admit it and say sorry.

10. Don’t say ”you’re wrong”
Don’t fight with the journalist. It’s better not to say ‘you’ at all i.e. don’t say, ‘you are wrong’, ‘I don’t know where you got that number from’, ‘you guys are all the same’, etc. If you make it personal the journalist is likely to increase their aggression. Your job is to stay reasonable and professional. In this recent Sky News interview Kay Burley uses that classic question, ‘if nothing was wrong before, why are you fixing it’. Note that Nick Varney, the CEO of Merlin Entertainment, the owners of Alton Towers, never loses his cool.

Liz Kendall August

How to respond to sexist media questions

My initial reaction on reading that UK Labour leadership candidate Liz Kendall had told a Mail on Sunday journalist to f**k off when he tried to guess her weight was:  ‘Go Liz!’.

My second was how  annoying it was that an article about a bright and serious women should not only include this question, but have been hijacked by outrage (manufactured or otherwise) about how sexist the Mail on Sunday’s political editor, Simon Walters, was for asking it.

Osborne ‘played the game’

While I have no interest in sticking up for the Mail, and even less in the price tag of Ms Kendall’s shoes or the size of her waistline, in the interests of fairness it should be noted that Mr Walters had also asked Chancellor, George Osborne, a similar question in a previous interview. The difference is Mr Osborne ‘played the game’ in his response, by explaining that he follows the 5:2 diet and regularly breakfasts on cereal with his children after taking the dog out to the garden. (And his interview didn’t compare him to Kate Middleton or make references to his ‘lithe figure’ or comment that he was a ‘slinky brunette’.)

 Women have a choice       

Liz Kendal angry at sexist media question

Liz Kendall was furious at a ‘sexist’ question about her weight

Women in the public eye have a choice about how they react to sexism (or perceptions of it) in the media. They can either be honest, call it out and swear (prompting unwanted headlines in Ms Kendall’s case) or hold their nose, play the game and hopefully draw attention to the sexist as well as the substance of their own argument.

Unfortunately, this does mean accepting there are still different rules for women and men. And that some of them stink.

Interview hi-jack

Until they change, making yourself as bullet proof as possible around journalists is one step towards giving women spokespeople some of that control.  Clearly anyone who drops the F-bomb in an interview is likely to get quoted for it (in Media Coach speak it’s about as sizzled as it gets).  And, personally, I think Kendall’s fruity riposte will have done her no harm in the long term, although she could have pushed back against the question without hijacking her own interview so spectacularly.  But from a PR viewpoint it must be galling for her that the standout item from this interview was not about her plans for the Labour party (which is in crisis by the way) but her off-the cuff but honest response to someone asking a stupid question. But, as we know in the media, women are damned for speaking up and damned if they don’t.t.

Emotional response

BuzzFeed Liz Kendall sexist weight question

How BuzzFeed reported the story

Last summer, a new MEP told me that she had to be twice as good as her male counterparts in order to be taken seriously in politics.  And a rock solid grasp of the brief is certainly key to maintaining credibility as a spokesperson. But so are the body language and voice that go with it.

Women with a public profile (or all women for that matter) can choose not to respond emotionally to sexist questions, keep their focus on the substance and make sure that their body language is disciplined and under control.  Of course, many of these rules apply equally to men in the public eye. The difference is that the media generally won’t make a gender-based judgement about a man who gets a bit angry, whereas they often will about a woman. 

And Ms Kendall certainly shouldn’t have been surprised by this question from the Mail (she later told John Pienaar’s BBC politics programme that she found the question ‘unbelievable’ – again, another headline hi-jacking phrase.)

After all, when it comes to media sexism, the Mail invented the handbook.

PS We have updated our webpage to make the ‘share’ buttons more visible so please do post, share and pass on our blogs.

Abdallah

Abdallah Touqan from Dubizzle wins our Message in a Minute Challenge

In case you couldn’t work it out from Twitter, Lindsay and I were at the European Communication Summit in Brussels last week.

While there we ran the first Media Coach Message in a Minute competition in which we asked the professional PRs to describe their organisation in a colloquial and interesting way in 60 seconds and record it on our onsite camera.

Many people often forget the value of an efficient Message in a Minute, or elevator pitch. They often (wrongly) assume that people know what they do (even after an hour of talking to them) when actually they only have a vague idea.

Abdallah

Abdallah Touqan did an excellent elevator pitch for Dubizzle

So doing it well can be a challenge but is worth getting right.

Even by the standards of professional communicators, we had some unusually strong entries and were really impressed by what people came up with virtually on their spot.

Although it was a tough call in the end we gave the prize to Abdallah Touqan for his description of Dubizzle, the company where he heads up communications.

What clinched his win was his arresting and imaginative use of numbers, examples (e.g. Egyptians having the equivalent of Swedish GDP in unused goods in their homes) and enthusiastic but measured delivery. He also managed to convey Dubizzle as a ‘movement’ in the ‘collaborative economy’ rather than just being  a company, which was very effective.

He was just a great spokesperson in terms of content and style.

Well done to everyone who took part and we hope you enjoyed it.

See you next year.

 

Lagarde

The Greek crisis in soundbites: this week’s top 5

Greece has been getting our attention at The Media Coach this week, meaning that quotes about the impasse over the debt crisis are grabbing headlines and making an impact.

As our clients know, our word for quotable language is ‘Sizzle’ which comes from the old marketing phrase ‘Sell the sizzle not the sausages’, meaning you need to put a spin on the language of your key message if you want journalists to pick it up as their quote.

In Greek I believe the word is το τσιτσίρισμα (to tsitsírisma) although please do correct me if I am wrong.

Here’s a quick analysis of some of the main quotes we liked this week (unfortunately, the Juncker cow metaphor was last week’s fodder, so it doesn’t make the final edit).  And for once, the Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis isn’t leading the charge (which just goes to show how serious the crisis must be if all the key players are out there being quotable).

1. Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Greek Speaker of the Parliament scooped headlines by describing the Greek debt as ‘illegal, illegitimate and odious’. This no-holds barred tricolon is classic Syriza – uncompromising, hyperbolic and immensely quotable (both in Greek and English).  This kind of approach served the party’s leaders well when they were building their media profile in opposition. It’s not working so well now that the reality of being in power and the compromises they need to make with the Troika (European Commission, IMF and ECB) are kicking in. Beware excessive hyperbole – once you’ve used up all your red-hot phrases you’ve got nowhere to go and can look foolish. But in the meantime, it’s catnip for journalists.

2. Christine Lagarde
On Thursday the ever cool IMF boss opined that Greece can only arrive at a deal with its creditors through a proper dialogue ‘with adults in the room’. This put down is all the more withering because the colloquial language paints word pictures of squabbling children (no question who Lagarde is wagging the finger at) and goes against our idea of  the stuffy bureaucratic language that is normally used to characterise these kinds of talks.

Lagarde

IMF boss Christine Lagade said ‘adults’ were needed to resolve the Greek debt crisis.

3. Angela Merkel
You can’t really do a piece about Greece without featuring the German Chancellor Angela Merkel somewhere. Not exactly known for her pithy soundbites (even German-speaking journalists find it tough to edit her) Merkel put her head above the parapet on Wednesday with an uncharacteristically sharp comment that Greece had received ‘unprecedented help’. This is quotable, clear but still measured. It’s not the most exciting but given Merkel’s position and the context it’s still arresting.

4. The Bank of Greece
On Wednesday the Bank warned for the first time of Greece’s ‘painful’ exit from the Eurozone and (probably) the EU if the talks failed. We all get what painful means…. so nothing too remarkable here but how much more striking because the message is not expressed as a ‘sharp fiscal and monetary re-adjustment’ or something generic and dull.

5. Peter Kazimir
Slovakian Finance Minister Peter Kazimir, who can always be relied on for a frank statement, injected a bit of tongue in cheek colour to the emergency eurogroup meeting yesterday by telling reporters: “I do believe in miracles. I am Catholic so I believe in miracles’. A bit of well-judged irony can do wonders for a quote, particularly in this context which has consistently been characterised by the media as  Greek tragedy. Maybe Kazimir should have said ‘deus ex machina’ at this point…

These are just our top quotes of the week. Please do tweet me other suggestions (@mediawhizz) or favourites or comment on the blog.

Have a good weekend.

smartphone

Facebook becomes the place for news, while no one wants to pay

The Reuters Institute has today published its digital news report and it is fascinating and probably essential reading for all of us working in PR. I strongly suggest that you read this report for yourself, or at least the executive summary, because there is so much interesting information in it. But here are a few things that leapt out at me.

smartphone

Smart phones are the new way to access news

The smartphone is becoming the way that people access news. A whopping 66% of smartphone users are reading news on them every week. In the UK, half of the people using their smartphone to find news are regularly using the BBC app although, internationally, this is unusual. The BBC says 65% of traffic to its news website now comes from smartphones and tablets, but in general the traditional big news brands are finding it increasingly difficult to get their apps embedded in people’s lives.

Huffington-Post-1Huffington Post is the second most used brand for online news globally behind Yahoo, which tops the league mainly because it is used by more than half of all Japanese people. BBC and MSN come joint third.

newspaper reader

No good news for newspapers

There is no good news here for the traditional newspaper. Online media is well established, television news is declining somewhat while social media is increasingly the place people go for their news. Newspapers are declining sharply. The picture is of course not consistent internationally, with France, Germany and Japan showing the strongest allegiance to traditional media. However, interestingly the survey suggests no discernable trend towards a willingness to pay for online news.

Whatsapp , which my friends and I use for international texting, is apparently hardly used in the US but a growing force for sharing news elsewhere, in particular in Spain, Brazil, Italy and Germany.

The numbers also tell us there has been a big increase in the consumption of online news video particularly in Spain and Denmark. A surprise to me is that in the past year Facebook has become a place people go to read news. Apparently, following changes in its algorithms and the introduction of autoplay for short videos, 41% of those surveyed used Facebook to find, read, watch and share comment on the news.

facebook_logo-620x348_zpsf067f5cc

Facebook: the place to ‘bump into’ news

Finally, for my digest of this report, we all apparently use Twitter to find news, or filter news so we can keep up with our world, but we tend to ‘bump into news’ on Facebook, rather then going onto Facebook to find news.

What does all this mean for PR? Well we think it makes the job of PR more demanding and more complicated, which will only increase the importance of a currently under-appreciated profession. But crucially, in a noisy and complicated news environment, the need for concise, well thought through and sticky messages is greater than ever.

alistairphillipsdavies

The moral is: Be Prepared

Pity Alistair Phillips-Davies. He was clearly never a boy scout. His PR team won him a coveted spot on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning. What is more he was to talk about a survey that throws a positive light on his company. But the outcome was a three-minute car crash which left  Phillips-Davies, CEO of energy firm SSE looking as if he a) was complicit in some meaningless PR stunt and b) didn’t know what was going on in his own company. The reason it was a car crash was the CEO was not prepared.

alistairphillipsdavies

Alistair Phillips-Davies

He was there because SSE has paid for some research to show why the new Fair Tax Mark, a government-backed endorsement of a company’s tax policies from an influential NGO, is needed to counter public cynicism about big business. SSE was the first FTSE100 company to get this kitemark, surely a great PR opportunity.

But it all went painfully wrong.

Phillips-Davies was first led into accepting that the public promise to pay tax meant his company was morally superior, really setting himself up for the next two questions. He then got hit with evidence of previous company wrongdoing.

Fair Tax mark

SSE was first FTSE100 company to win the Fair Tax mark

 

Interviewer James Naughtie mentioned two incidents both outlined in a Guardian piece in March this year: A £100,00 fine for overcharging the National Grid for wholesale power and an earlier fine by Ofgem for failing to meet obligations to provide free insulation to low-income households. I mention the Guardian piece because that is likely to be where Naughtie’s information came from. When researching questions for an interview, the journalists will do a Google search on the company and see what has been written previously. It is not rocket science.

 

It wasn’t a particularly aggressive interview, in fact Naughtie seemed to pull his punches. It would have been a lot more embarrassing for SSE had it been John Humphrys asking the questions.

James Naughtie BBC Radio 4 presenter

James Naughtie BBC Radio 4 presenter asked the questions

From where we as media trainers sit, the negative questions were so obvious: cynical journalists will always throw the odd curve ball if someone is suggesting they are better than the rest.

Also as a ‘professional listener’ it was clear that Phillips-Davies only had one message, and he was rather hesitant on the delivery of this. It certainly did not have enough substance to sustain the interview. He never seemed to talk about the actual survey, or indeed the ‘big picture’ mission to rebuild trust in big business.

So just to be clear – if you are going to get any but the simplest argument across in three minutes, under potentially hostile questioning, you need to have rehearsed it a few times. You also need to anticipate the tough questions and work out what you are going to say.

By the way, our rates are very reasonable.

Today Programme 54:06

 

 

 

Brexit Creative Commons Kevin Friery

3 Stories the UK’s Pro-EU lobby should tell

Brexit Creative Commons Kevin Friery

The Pro-EU lobby in the UK lacks a great story

We’re less than three weeks into the shadow UK-EU referendum campaign and already companies and business groups have started drip feeding negative warnings about vague threats to jobs and growth into the public debate.

Airbus, JCB and Vodafone are just three of the big names adding their two cents but precisely, who these warnings are aimed at is beyond me given that negative campaigning went down like a lead balloon in Scotland.

None of these arguments are wrong but we need something more to get inspired. Even the most casual observer knows that a large chunk of the UK in EU discussion is about British identity and that ‘red tape’, ‘renegotiation’ and ‘Brussels decides’ are often trigger words to fire people up about the fear of British identity under threat.

They are also side lining the much bigger story about the EU and Britain. In her book ‘Acts of Union and Disunion’, the historian Linda Colley argues that throughout history British identity has periodically organised itself around a series of ‘constitutive stories’ that include liberty, monarchy, the sea, constitutional superiority, islands and (at times) Europe.  These stories have been particularly helpful during times of external pressure because they give the often fractious group of different nations a common identity to converge around.

Eurosceptics are great at exploiting these ideas which is why any campaign (and I use this term in the loosest sense) for staying in the EU needs to pitch its battle lines firmly around these areas.  This means looking at identity and beyond jobs, growth, reform, regulation, renegotiation, the national interest, immigration or, shock horror, caps on mobile phone roaming charges.

Fortunately, the signs are that the pro-camp is starting to see that economic arguments alone won’t be enough. Any successful pro-EU campaign needs to re-claim and re-frame these ideas by coming up with a better set of stories about why being British means being at the heart of the EU. It doesn’t mean its leaders need to chuck their studies about British jobs and influence out of the window. But it does mean understanding that people need more than a set of data and scaremongering soundbites about loss of growth and trade to get excited.

Whether we’ll get this kind of approach is debatable, particularly given the less than inspiring line up of big names tasked with leading the referendum discussion.

But I do think we need to see three kinds of identity-based stories doing the rounds.  I don’t claim to have them all fleshed out but they broadly fall into stories that address the questions – what do I want for me/my family, what kind of country do I want to live in, and what kind of world do I want to live in?
The first story needs to address the issue of ‘small values’ i.e. one that addresses what being in the EU means to people at an individual and familial level. This could be very much tied to the ambition and aspiration (whatever that means) agenda that everyone seems to be getting excited about in Westminster. If we are to believe that Britain is a place that rewards hard work then being part of the club that shapes the rules of the world’s biggest single market of 500 million people is essential. If people are personally ambitious then they need to feel personally invested in the club that is the gateway to that prosperity.  And they need to be able to explain that to other people they know.

Then we need one on big values i.e. what kind of country do I want to live in?  This story is the counterpoint to the perennial ‘red tape’ argument put out by businesses and addresses a lot of the good things that Brits want in their lives – such as holidays, better environmental and energy efficiency standards for fighting climate change and energy dependence and more control over working hours.

And finally we need one about Britain’s place in the world through the EU. And this is the one about taking a lead and setting common standards on climate change, equal pay, human rights energy security, scientific research and Russia. It’s partly about influence but it’s equally about pragmatism and also understanding why being part of a bigger group is key for economies of scale as well as influence.

Reclaiming and mastering the narrative for the pro-EU camp will be hard but essential not least because it’s starting on the back foot. It will require pushing back against the common garden way of talking about and framing the EU and making British people feel as though they are making an active, deliberate and inclusive choice about being British when they choose to be in the EU.

Will these tales be enough? Possibly not.  But Britain’s membership of the EU is about more than the national interest. It’s about our national identity and a vision we can and should be proud to be part of. Those who support it must make their voice heard and must not get side tracked by arguments over reform and re-negotiation.

In short, we must hear the kind of stories that show how the success and values of all Britons – not just Britain – have built and are built through Europe.

camerons pr blunder

Cameron’s PR ‘blunder’ – no third term

CAmeron3UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s comments, that if re-elected in May he would not seek a third term in office in five years time, is the lead story in all the main British newspapers today and on radio and television. It was definitely a scoop for BBC’s James Landale who was conducting a ‘cosy’ behind the scenes interview in the PM’s kitchen at the time.

There are plenty of voices suggesting the Prime Minister should not have answered a question about his long-term plans so honestly. In doing so, the argument goes, he has fired the starting pistol for the next Tory leadership race, especially as he went on to name three possible successors. And he has distracted from May’s election.

For myself, this kind of political reporting is tedious in the extreme and with a complicated election on the horizon, serious economic issues at hand, not to mention plenty of international crises to talk about, I would question whether it should be a lead story. But I certainly realised as soon as I heard the comment that we were in for a media frenzy. It was predictable.

For students of PR, there is one salient lesson here. Just because something is true does not mean it is a good idea to say it to a journalist. Media training is in part about sensitizing people to issues which are commonplace, even obvious in one context but, out of context, give the journalist a story that is either damaging or distracting. Former BP CEO, Tony Hayward’s comment ‘I want my life back’ springs to mind. He wasn’t saying anything we couldn’t have guessed but saying it made a huge story.

Assuming Cameron did not plan to make this announcement about ‘no third term’ his PR team will have been wringing their hands because they lost control of the news cycle. They would not have been prepared for this media frenzy, the lines would not have been in place and they will have had to rush around to find Tory Grandees to wheel out and explain that the Prime Minister was not being disrespectful to the electorate, was not assuming he would win the next election, and is indeed focused on the next election and not his personal future.  And, of course, while the media is talking about Cameron’s ‘blunder’ they are not talking about whatever it was the election machine had in mind for these two days.

All this ‘damage’ because the Prime Minister truthfully answered a question put to him. The lesson is that in all interviews one has to be disciplined. Relaxing into a chat with a journalist is a recipe for an unexpected headline.

However, just to be mischievous, it is worth remembering that David Cameron was a PR man and he has been Prime Minister for almost 5 years. He knows how the British media works. So actually perhaps it wasn’t a blunder at all. Perhaps he wanted a 24-hour news-fest that constantly repeats the possible assumption that the next election is a forgone conclusion.  I am not sure this has been damaging for Cameron at all. It may, in fact, have been a PR coup.

 

 

 

Pegidas spokesperson image

Pegida’s spokesperson falls into the negative framing trap

If you are an organisation or group with an agenda that could easily be misconstrued by public opinion then you need to work hard to make sure your PR is spot on and doesn’t backfire against you.

Earlier today, Pegida,  a German group which is campaigning against the ‘Islamification of the West’ held their first march in the UK (others have taken place in Germany).  They stress they are not anti-Islam, only anti-extreme Islam. And, according to media reports (and Pegida itself) they had deliberately picked the city of Newcastle (which has a small Muslim population) to avoid attracting the kinds of far-right groups that previously would have been attracted to similar marches in Bradford or Leeds (which have far larger Muslim populations).

One of Pegida’s proof points  that they aren’t racist is that they had Muslims taking part in their march.

Pegida's anti-Islamification stance

Pegida’s ‘anti-Islamification’ stance is classic negative framing

A spokesperson for the group, Marion Rogers told the BBC

“We are not racist, we are not fascist, we are not far-right and we’re certainly not anti-Islam – we’ve got Muslims here with us today.’

All of these negative statements i.e. ‘anti-Islamification’, ‘we are not’ etc are classic examples of negative framing.  Once the interview is over the listener will be left with the denials and the powerful associations conjured up by ‘we are not anti-Muslim’. i.e. they will be left with the impression that Pegida IS anti-Muslim.  A parallel from the corporate world would be a media interview with a CEO in which he or she is quoted as saying ‘we are not in a crisis’ and the reader automatically assumes they are because the word ‘crisis’ sets alarm bells ringing.

Either way, strategists at Pegida almost certainly haven’t read  ‘Don’t Think of An Elephant’ by George Lakoff, the Berkeley professor and cognitive linguist who wrote the handbook on how not to conform with and reinforce people’s negative ideas about you.

Some people might ask what Ms Rogers should have done when pressed with this kind of question. Quite simply, if Pegida is being honest when it says they are anti-extreme Islam then from a PR standpoint they should have run a positive campaign which they didn’t have to defend. But she certainly should not have opened herself up to being quoted in media interviews saying ‘we are not x, we are not y, we are not z’. Not only does previous experience of negative campaigning (e.g the No campaign on the Scottish referendum) tell us that they generally not as effective as they could be, but they give the media powerful and potentially damaging quotes which are hard to distance oneself from in the weeks and months after an interview.

Natalie Bennettgr

Know your numbers

This week the Green Party’s leader Natalie Bennett discovered that knowing your numbers is an essential part of interview preparation, especially if it is a live television or radio interview.

She appeared on talk station LBC, where Breakfast presenter Nick Ferrari quite reasonably asked her how her party would fund the building of 500,000 new council houses:

NatalieBennettgr_2327342b

Natalie Bennett did not know the numbers

NB: “Well, what we want to do is fund that particularly from removing the tax relief – um – on mortgage – ah – interest for private landlords…”

NF: “How much would that bring in?”

NB: “Private landlords at the moment are br… – er – er- you know – basically – running away with the situation of hugely rising rents, they’re collecting large amounts of housing benefit….”

NF: “But how much would that be worth – the mortgage relief for private landlords?”

NB: “Um – well – uh – that’s part of the… of the whole costing of all of this…”

NF: “Yes but how much will that bring in… the cost of 500,000 homes – let’s start with that – how much is that going to be?”

NB: “Right, well, that’s, that’s, erm … you’ve got… got a total cost … erm … that we’re … that… that will be spelt out in our manifesto.”

NF: “So you don’t know?”

NB: “No… well uh.”

NF: “No, you don’t. Right.”

The interview continued for a further two-and-a-half painful minutes of stutters, stumbles, awkward pauses and long silences. It was made all the more surprising because the interviewer resisted the temptation to be aggressive, and chose instead to be politely persistent – as you can hear for yourself here:

In fact almost all serious interviews need facts and numbers to back up assertions. Making sure the figures stack up and can be easily grasped is essential. Making sure they are accurate and will stand up to scrutiny if necessary is also important, and often someone will need to check that today’s numbers do not contradict or confuse numbers previously released. All of this is typically carefully built into the preparation for any media event, preparation the Green Party seemed to have missed out on.

Nick Ferrari

Nick Ferrari spotted a hole in the argument

Nick Ferrari did what journalists are paid to do: he spotted a loophole in Natalie Bennett’s ‘evidence’, and he went for it. Afterwards, he described it as “one of the worst interviews ever by a political leader”, while she admitted that the experience was “excruciating”.

No one is doubting that the leader of any political party has a daunting task to prepare to be asked about every aspect of every policy on which they are campaigning. But to fail to prepare is to prepare to fail – summed up by Ferrari’s final question to her, live on-air:

NF: “Do you think you might perhaps have genned-up on this a bit more, Natalie Bennett?”

The sum total of what I’m saying can be expressed as follows: having a message minus statistics means that your argument simply might not add up.