For a career that has become a profession, the political class perform surprisingly badly at the job. Here’s two lessons you can learn from their mistakes last month.
1) Tell your story, then stop. Journalists are very good at spotting weaknesses in stories. Bill English kept telling them his story about Todd Barclay each day they asked, and they spotted subtle differences every time – which made for new headlines. We have no truck with the ridiculous notion that telling your story only “fuels the fire”. But once you’ve told your story, there’s no need, and every risk, in continuing to tell it.
2) Tell a solid story – even one against yourself. Andrew Kirton’s rush to Auckland to fix the controversial intern scheme was an all-action response that almost saved their reputation. Almost. The story that the scheme had been ‘too successful’ was too clever to be true. Journalists soon discovered inconsistencies. A far more solid ‘story’ required a brave heart: to acknowledge that the practical difficulties were an illustration of exactly what happens when you bring people into the country with good intentions but inadequate infrastructure.