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Radio ga-ga - reading statements on air is boring

There was a fantastic business news story in New Zealand this week - a half-year profit up by almost 50%, an interim dividend announced and a bullish forecast. Shareholders and the business community in general breathed a collective sigh of relief.

After last year, this was stellar. The CEO was even referred to as a magician in one commentary; not quite within FMA regulations, but never mind.

So when I heard a read out statement on Radio New Zealand about this turn around, this phoenix rising, this comeback story, I felt deflated and even short-changed.

How is it possible to turn such a good piece of news into something that sounded so….well….dull?

There are times when I feel I have to stick up for my profession and this is one.

There is an increasing reliance on these pre-recorded, read word-for-word statements, turning news into monosyllabic dream-worthy bullet points. And this wasn’t the only one I heard in the same bulletin.

The simple point is there’s no character when a statement is read out and like me, I would think most people just turn off. These captains of industry may as well be reading the telephone directory.

For a moment, just think about presentation training - rule number one is don’t read what’s on the slide. Why is it any different when recording a radio interview?

From years of helping executives engage with the media, I know full well there are ways to communicate a statement and cover all your key points, but sound like you are having a conversation.

A tip is to have a colleague ask a question and then provide the answer as if it was a live media interview. The same result is achieved but it sounds so much more interesting. And if you don’t like the result, you can do it again.

I understand the need for compliance, to ensure the right information is provided and t’s are crossed and i’s dotted. But character, I cry, give the listener some character. We are more likely to listen, absorb the information and warm to you, your organisation and what is being said.

The responsibility for changing this approach lies with the PR and communications people. They know as well as anyone, never waste a good media opportunity, but if your main spokesperson just reads a statement, that’s exactly what you are doing.

(Photo by Fringer Cat on Unsplash)

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