|DEALING WITH THE MEDIA
A guide by Alistair McConnachie in the March 2001 issue of Sovereignty.
Newspaper, TV and radio journalists are the people you can use to take your message to a huge audience. They will, generally, try to be fair to you. Therefore, always be co-operative and friendly.
HANDLING A TV INTERVIEW
= Smile, regardless of what is being said to you. Smile when listening to the question, answer it, and then end your answer with a smile. If the interviewer says something that is meant to irritate you then laugh, smile, give your answer, then smile again.
= Project openness. If standing, don't fold your arms in front of you, or clasp your hands in front of you, as if you've just realised your fly is down. Try clasping hands, gently, behind your back - although avoid looking as if you are "at ease" on parade - with a slight forward lean of the upper body, and a slight head tilt for maximum openness. Alternatively, there is the "Prince Charles posture" - which is quite effective - with one arm bent and resting behind your back, the other arm forward, bent at the elbow and the open hand occasionally gesturing. You can try putting both arms in front of you, bent at the elbow, and the fingertips of either hand touching each other lightly in a steeple shape, at waist height. This projects an image of "being in control". Experiment with what works best for you, but the important point to remember is to project openness, honesty and friendliness.
= Don't gesture too much. It can appear exaggerated on TV. Keep it to a minimum. Don't point, as it can look aggressive. If you must point, do so with your little finger. Don't sway from foot to foot, or move your head.
= Don't put your hands in front of your mouth or face at any time, and keep them a million miles from your nose. Don't fidget with your fingers. A hostile cameraman will focus-in on any twiddling of thumbs.
= You may also want to take your glasses off for any TV interview. Eyes are the most expressive elements of the face.
= Always remain cool and in control.
= When sitting in a studio or on a stage, don't slouch, but keep your back straight and lean forward slightly. This puts you mentally at the ready, and it engages the audience. Don't move your feet and legs constantly. Adopt a comfortable position and stick with it.
= Avoid wearing check designs and patterns which can confuse the cameras. White shirts and dark suits are still best for men.
PROJECTING THE MESSAGE
Say it once and say it again. For example, "We are standing at this election to give the voters of Anytown the opportunity to vote for a party which will take us out of the undemocratic, wasteful European Union, and which will pledge to keep the pound forever. We want to leave the EU, we want to keep democratic control over the economy and we want to see Britain once again becoming a successful, free, independent, global trading nation."
= Always look important, and speak with importance. If it is important to you then it will be important to the audience. Care about your message and you will make other people care about it too. If you appear not to have convinced yourself, then you won't convince anybody else!
= Have a short list of the points you want to make and make sure you say them. Don't wait to be asked a question specifically relating to something you want to say. Just say it. Get it on film.
= Remember that the TV station is looking to splice what you say into a maximum 15-30 second slot. Save the elaborate philosophical discourse for the academy and keep to one or two topics of your own choosing.
If you talk about lots of different things then you will have no control over what eventually will appear. Stick to one or two main points and they are sure to appear on the broadcast. Narrowing your focus in this way gives you control over the broadcast.
= Use personal experiences. Use specific examples to which people can relate. Use analogies, that is, explain something by comparing it to something else. Use colourful words, superlatives, clichés, and references to contemporary events. Use one-liners to make a point hit home. Use percentages and fractions. For example, "75% of people want to leave the EU, that's 3 out of every 4 who agree with us. We're giving them the chance to vote for what they believe in."
= Remember that the viewer doesn't remember intricate details, only brief phrases, or images - so keep your points short. It's been said that if you can't get your message over in 15-30 seconds, then stay out of politics. Practice making 3 points in 10 seconds; the media will love you, and the public will understand and remember you.
Julius Caesar knew how to do it : "I came, I saw, I conquered."
STAYING ON MESSAGE
The "Yes, but ... " or "No, but ... " Answer - After you say "but" or "and", you can launch into anything you want.
The Deflection - "I think that's an important question. What I am emphasising, however, is ... "
The Issue Change - "That's not the issue. The issue is ... [your issue]."
The Instant Dismissal - "That's absurd. Let's concentrate on the real facts. Let's concentrate on the fact that ... "
The Turn-Around - Turn an accusation against the accuser.
The Blatant Plug - You want to speak about the EU, not about the intricacies of NHS funding: "Let's talk about funding the NHS. Let's talk about all the money we should be spending right here on our elderly. Let's talk about the million pounds an hour we pay to the EU. And while we're on the subject of the EU, let's talk about ... "
HANDLING THE "XENOPHOBIC" QUESTION
For example, in reply to the question, "Are you xenophobic towards Europeans?" don't labour defensively with the denial, "Oh, no, no, no. It's just not true that we dislike Europeans. We don't hate anybody, really." Not only is that pretty meaningless - since you haven't explained why you don't dislike Europeans - but all the viewer will remember is the powerful notion of "disliking and hating Europeans." Next day the headline in the newspaper will read, "Candidate denies disliking Europeans."
Therefore, keep your reply positive and use the opportunity to re-affirm your core message: "We are delighted to stand by our fellow Europeans in supporting the right of all European nations to independence and self-government free from the undemocratic European Union. The EU threatens all the peoples of Europe. That's why we need to leave the EU and keep the pound forever."
If he persists: "But you haven't answered my question. Are you xenophobic towards Europeans?"
"Of course not [Instant Dismissal]. Let's concentrate on the facts. The anti-Europeans are those people in the EU whose policies are destroying the unique identity and culture of every country in Europe [Turn Around]. A growing number of Europeans stand right beside us in demanding independence for their nations. Denmark has just voted to keep its currency. Switzerland has just voted to stay out the EU. It's now for the people of this country to vote to leave the EU, and keep our pound forever. We're giving them that opportunity at the General Election. That's why we're here, that's why people need to vote for us ... and, anyway ... what was the question again?"