Joe Hockey

It’s the worst fear for most people facing up to a media interview on camera.

The left of field / how did they know that? / I haven’t prepared an answer for it / question.

Usually, a journalist will lean in to the killer question, lulling the interview talent into a false sense of security and comfort.

But last Tuesday night, Laurie Oakes went straight for the jugular with Treasurer Joe Hockey, immediately after the Treasurer had handed down his first Federal budget.

Well, not immediately, ABC TV had the first post interview, a concession perhaps for the $120 million funding cut to which they are still applying a firm bandage.

Laurie Oakes: “How was your dance?”

Joe Hockey was dancing in his office just prior to the Budget hand down.

Given the pain all Australians were being asked to bear for the betterment of our nation, it seemed incongruous, the thought that the Treasurer was dancing up a storm, and to a song entitled “this is the best day of my life.”

And yet, as always, the real test is how Hockey dealt with this ambush question.

Hockey got straight back on to the fact he is in fact celebrating a great day for Australia because the pieces are in place for a sustainable future. Our economy might be fine, our budget is terminal.

There’s no question the Treasurer, and all members of both sides of the House, have been prepared with extensive media training, preparation of key messages, anticipation of likely questions ahead of the Budget and Budget responses.

Yet, here is a question completely unanticipated.

What Hockey demonstrated is that these questions can come from left of field, but what is crucial is that you exercise your opportunity to convey your key messages.

Hockey did that. And further, he successfully dealt with the surprise question effectively, “this is indeed a day to celebrate, because we have a plan to ensure a viable economic future for the country”.

As I watched that interview unfold, and the social media activity following, I was intrigued to know how a private hype up dance in his office became known. Who was the rat in the ranks?

We now know there was a news photographer in the room.

What does this say?

It certainly demonstrates how important it is that with media in attendance, everything you do and say, on or off the camera can be reported upon, and perceived by the public in many ways.

There is much emphasis on authenticity in media interviews and not appearing to be too stage managed. But the misstep of dancing to that song, especially with media in attendance, ahead of some very tough love being metered out to the Australian public is breathtakingly naïve.

Being real is crucial.

Being careful is even more so.


KDPR specialises in training business and government leaders in all sectors including health, property, law, resources, public institutions, education and consumer based organisations.

Our tailored workshops cover understanding the media process, preparing and undertaking media interviews, issues management and social media strategy including how to best utilise all social media platforms specifically for your brand or business.