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Gayford takes the bait

Got ‘em. Two words (or part thereof) that almost certainly would have been uttered at the editorial desk in the NZ Herald this week after the recently appointed first man Clarke Gayford found himself reeled in by an inflammatory column.

The piece in question was an out of left field, slightly bizarre attack on Clarke to be honest. One that doesn’t actually accuse him of anything in particular other than an unidentifiable dislike of his ability to appear natural and be comfortable in the spotlight.

In doing so, it has parallels with the many readers out there who secretly think Megan from Suits is really just hooking up with Prince Harry for the fame and fairy tale royal family narrative. I mean whatever happened to the sense of innocence and love in all of this or is cynicism just the new black? 

And as for Clarke, the dude has been a broadcaster and voice artist for many years and has no doubt worked bloody hard to get where he is today so maybe just give him a break… ok slow down tiger, I’m finding myself being reeled in now.

Time to spit that lure out and take a step back and see the situation for what it is – a valuable learning opportunity on when and how to respond to media jabs. Because the second Hill-Cone got under Clarke’s skin enough to justify him venting his frustration on Twitter (albeit in an equally weird, cryptic way) it was only a matter of time before the circus rolled into town.

So without further ado, allow me to leverage this whole episode and help promote my own expertise with a few questions to ask yourself when considering volunteering a response to unjustified media criticism.

What’s the alternative?

Ok, someone has had a crack at your reputation in the media and there’s an immediate knee-jerk reaction to set the record straight. The key thing is to take a breath and assess where this is going to get you. Will it just add fuel to the fire and what would actually happen if you didn’t respond? Will the world end? Probably not. Will it blow over without a further follow up angle? Yes, probably.

Who’s talking and are they important?

So you’ve opted to keep your mouth shut for the time being and observe the banter going on in the public domain. Random people on social media are offering their two cents’ worth and the usual commentary figures are jumping into it too. There’s no rule book but if prominent politicians and industry associations begin to start actively commenting it maybe time to re-consider your position.

Are the comments defamatory?

That’s one for the lawyers but if it’s clear from the advice you’ve been given that the comments are defamatory, there’s probably no need to bother battling out in the public domain when a summons sent to the media agency will do.

Are you being asked for comment?

It’s been a day or two and the story appears to be dying. At which point a radio presenter tries to stir things up and phones you to ask for a response. In these circumstances, it’s probably best avoiding ducking for cover and instead, opt for a more candid response. The water off the ducks back view of things. The more you can show to be unfazed, the more likely that story is headed quicker for the dustbin.

So, there are a few things go consider when the likes of Hill-Cone are on your case. I’m no guru and each situation does have its own specific circumstances to consider, but if you do take the time to ask these questions, generally speaking, you’ll be out fishing again without a care in the world in no time.

By Luke Henshall



 

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