Gorkana Group

The Laffer curve of comms

By a complete coincidence Gorkana has been given behind the scenes accounts of Any Questions? from both the chair’s and from a panellist’s perspective.  Jonathan Dimbleby, who is celebrating 25 years in as chairman of the programme, understands why, with the pressures of the modern media, those on the panel now arrive with mountains of briefing and lines to take.  “They were much more delightful when they were not so trained. They are also much more regimented. Some, the best, completely ignore what they are given [by their parties].”  On the other hand Weber Shandwick’s Alex Deane, who was invited onto the show as a panellist a couple of weeks ago, has a different perspective.  “PRs will often say, preparation is the key – that’s no less true for ourselves than for our clients.”

However, there is much shared territory between these two positions.  Dimbleby’s concern is that responses that have been learned (or even read out) verbatim lack authenticity.  It shouldn’t need too much briefing for anybody to hold their end of an argument up. The audience will then engage with the person rather than be switched off by an automaton.  Deane’s approach was to minimise the risk of having to think about an issue for the first time, “Narrowing the field of issues that truly surprise you to prevent yourself being too blindsided is a good idea”.  Somewhere between an Entwistle and the speaking clock there is an optimal amount of briefing and rehearsal that will give you the most convincing voice.

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