Media Insider: Christopher Luxon calls in ex-TV star for media training; the PR chiefs behind Luxon, Chris Hipkins; RNZ host’s apology to Winston Peters
A familiar face steps up to help Christopher Luxon; Just who is pulling the PR strings for the two main leaders? RNZ host apologises to Winston Peters; Women’s sport media survey; 10-point plan to help the ad industry cut consumer emissions.
The National Party has called on one of New Zealand’s most familiar television faces in what appears to be an attempt to broaden the appeal of leader Christopher Luxon.
Former Good Morning presenter Mary Lambie – who runs a media training business – has been hired by the party as its leader strives to attract a bigger and wider cross-section of the public.
Luxon needs to break loose of corporate speak, according to many seasoned political observers, and to appear more natural and self-assured in interviews, especially on screen and radio.
He appears sometimes too tightly aligned to talking points – repeating them regularly – rather than responding naturally to questions. His on-screen presence is often completely different to 1-1 interactions, where he is warmer.
While Labour languishes in the polls – the most recent 1 News-Verian poll has the Government at 33 per cent (down 2 percentage points on a previous poll) – the National Party is not faring as well as many political commentators believe it should.
National’s party vote is at only 35 per cent in the same poll (also down 2 percentage points) while in personal ratings, Luxon (20 per cent) remains behind Chris Hipkins (24 per cent) as preferred prime minister.
Those personal polls are meaningless, other than they give parties, and the public, a fair idea of trust levels and whether a leader is getting cut-through.
In a one-line statement to Media Insider, a National Party spokesman said: “Mary Lambie has been helping the National Party with media training”.
Lambie, who hosted Good Morning from 1997 to 2003 and now runs the media training business Socius Media, said she was in the middle of a training session when Media Insider called yesterday.
She promised to come back to us and once she eventually did, said she had nothing to add to National’s statement.
According to her website, media services include a half- or full-day session with Lambie, “an award-winning journalist and broadcaster with 30 years experience in television, radio and print. Professionally lit and filmed by a skilled TV producer at TVNZ (Auckland).”
Her programme includes “dealing with journalists, the media landscape, conducting a great interview, key messaging, managing tricky questions, radio and TV delivery and styling advice”.
“Media training can be conducted at either TVNZ or at your place … for either one-on-one or small group sessions.”
Lambie later confirmed that TVNZ studios were not being used for any of the National Party work.
There are a range of testimonials on her website from various businesses and leaders.
“The half-day session was highly valuable for our team. As was the opportunity to learn and practice in a real-world setting on radio and camera,” wrote Rebecca Burton, of the NZ Society of Anaesthetists.
Mary Lambie with her husband, RNZ broadcaster Jim Mora. Photo / NZ Herald
Other politicians have used former television stars and producers in the past.
Janet Wilson helped Sir John Key and Sir Bill English – both for campaign and television debate preparations – while Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham were credited with helping improve Helen Clark’s performances on television.
Former political reporter now lawyer Linda Clark is understood to have helped Dame Jacinda Ardern during her time in politics.
Herald political editor Claire Trevett, who uncovered Lambie’s role, said: “How a politician comes across on camera is pretty crucial since it’s how most voters get to see them. Some need a bit more help than others.
“Luxon is a quick study and not daunted by cameras, but he’s also quite a talker and bombards people with lists, so it’s a work in progress.”
-Originally published in NZ Herald, by Shayne Currie.