What would make Minister Stuart YoungScreen Shot 2018-01-29 at 09.37.06 think that he could call into a radio programme last Friday (26 Jan 2018) – or any day for that matter – and deliver his “prepared statement” without interruption? What would make such a thought even enter his brain?
Ignorance? Arrogance? Or is it to follow the lead of his political leader who has developed a penchant for coining new words. Who can forget the debut of “ignorrogance” into the local vernacular?
As far as I am aware, when you call a radio station, you have to abide by the station’s rules. The host did not invite you; you invited yourself, so you cannot expect to dictate the rules of the game.
I am not very clear on the rules by which the government can claim a certain amount of media time every month. What is clear, however, is that it is not relevant in this case. Government minister or not, if you have not paid for the broadcast, you have no right to determine the rules of engagement. Not even to attempt it.

I liken Minister Young’s behaviour to his storming a fete; “how he could vex if dey t’row he tail out? He eh pay nuttin, so he eh ha’ no right dey.’”

From an etiquette point of view, he was completely wrong. It was intolerably ill-mannered to call in to the station and not want to engage in even the minimum of courtesies.  As far as media engagement is concerned, this was also bad strategy, especially as there was no subsequent explanations of what is actually happening with the CNC/NGC impasse.  And perhaps most tellingly for a politician, subsequent calls to the station say unequivocally, that even if he thinks he won the battle, he certainly lost the war.

Media Engagement 101 teaches you, Minister Young, that it is of no consequence whether or not you like the host or agree with what he thinks; you simply have no choice but to play by his rules. You see, what matters in the case of this show host, is that he has developed a loyal listenership over many years. His content is generally viewed as being informational and educational.  It is beyond dispute that he has created a space for simple dialogue on complex economic and financial issues. Many see him as having demonstrated that his interest is in the country and not in any particular party.

And even if that were not so, you simply can’t behave as if you own the place. As far as we know, you do not.  If it were possible for to wipe the slate clean and rewrite this horror story, there are five things I’d suggest you do.

  • The first is to make sure that you are very clear on the reason for your action or what is your why.  This is ultimately what becomes your key message.
  • Suggestion number two also has to do with your key message – don’t forget to summarize your key message at the end of the conversation.
  • Number three: Impatience and anger are definitely not assets during a public “appearance.” You would be well advised to breathe deeply before you go on air so both disappear even if they are present before you begin.
  • Number four is so obvious that I am a little embarrassed to add it here: keep to your script and make the conversation pleasant.
  • But all four of those suggestions become rather less important if you are willing to go with number five: have one of your functionaries call the host and ask politely if there is any objection to your calling in and making a contribution on the issue; the likelihood of aggro is then severely reduced.

Minister Young, you had an opportunity to provide clarity on an issue that can have broad, long-term implications for the development of this country. Instead, you chose the bully strategy, seeing that opening as an opportunity to stuff something down the citizenry’s throats. That is perhaps why you tripped over the issue of whether or not the matter is subjudice or merely confidential. I think you should be made aware that, to some citizens, this will probably be taken to mean that you are disrespectfully saying: “We are not discussing this with you stupid people.”

Minister Young, your intemperance is just one more thread in the tangled web of government’s mismanagement in general, and in particular, mismanagement of its communication strategy – if we can be generous and say that one exists.

Minister Young, I have heard it said, “who have more corn feed more fowl.” Given the feeding frenzy of 2010-2015 and the forced frugality of the current period, will incumbency guarantee you the advantage the next time the election bell rings?

Minister Young, communication has to convey the “corn” message. And ultimately it is the better communicator who will reach more of the citizenry. Our country continues to underperform and the legacy voters (i.e., your powerbase providers) continue to disappear. It is not hard to see people like you, who were brought in to represent the younger cohort will be soon be seen waving the opposition flag.

After all – and I sincerely hope that you will prove me wrong – your presence has changed neither the game nor the methodology.  

Not condemning, just commenting.

 

 

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