Brian Edwards Media

Posts Tagged 'Mark Hotchin'

If all you need to do is tell the truth, why do people need media training?

Hard Talk's Stephen Sackur

The debate over Mark Hotchin’s interview with Mark Sainsbury on Close Up  has produced the usual shibboleths about Public Relations and Media Training. The practitioners of these dark arts are seen  either as miracle workers who can make sinners look like saints – referred to in the advertising world as ‘polishing a turd’ –  or as shysters making a killing from teaching people how to successfully lie in interviews and thus pull the wool over the eyes of the general public.  If either of these outcomes were possible, Judy and I would not be blogging about the Hotchins, we’d be with them in Hawaii, only in a much nicer spot in a much nicer house.

The “miracle-worker” version is rooted in the idea that readers, listeners and viewers are idiots who can be easily taken in by the practised sleight of hand of the PR/media trained interviewee.  But it simply isn’t so. And especially not on television.

This is what the great doyen of British interviewers, Sir Robin Day, had to say about the televised political interview:

“When a TV interviewer questions a politician, this is one of the rare occasions, perhaps the only occasion outside Parliament, when a politician’s performance cannot be completely manipulated or packaged or artificially hyped. Some TV answers can, of course, be prepared by scriptwriters and committed to memory, but not all. The answers cannot be on autocue as for an address to camera.

 “The image-maker can advise on how to sit, or what hairstyle to have, or on voice quality. But once the interview has started, the politician is on his or her own… Provided there is time for probing  cross-examination, the politician cannot be wholly shielded against the unexpected. The politician’s own brain is seen to operate. His or her real personality tends to burst out. Truth is liable to raise its lovely head.

 “In a newspaper interview, the politician may flannel or fudge, but in a TV interview the flannelling and fudging can be seen and judged by the viewing public, just as the jury in a court can form their opinion of the candour and the credibility of a witness.”

Our advice to clients has not changed in a quarter of a century. It is: Be straightforward; Tell the truth; Admit your mistakes. Why? Because that’s the only thing that works. Read the rest of this entry »


A brief assessment of the players in the Hotchin/Sainsbury/Close Up interview


Close Up – Undoubtedly a major coup, though I suspect that Hotchin, or an agent on his behalf, approached the programme. However, the  production team blotted its copy book badly by totally abandoning editorial balance and showing clips damaging to Hotchin –  largely newspaper headlines – while Hotchin was speaking. An appalling lapse in editorial judgement.

Hotchin – Plausible and persuasive. I thought he was very good. His appearance has been and will be dismissed as a PR exercise and there may well be an element of truth in that. But the risks inherent in taking part in a live and predictably aggressive television interview were considerable. And, in the end, all the PR in the world will not assist the lying or dishonest television interviewee. The audience will see through him.     

Sainsbury – Handled the interview well. Asked the questions that viewers, and some at least of those who lost money in Hanover, would have wanted asked. Somewhat repetitive and it really would be good if Mark could put his questions in a less excitable way. But overall a good performance.

Campbell Live – Ended its show last night with an undignified piece of sour grapes in which John bewailed the fact that Hotchin was appearing on his competitor’s programme and re-ran old Campbell Live clips which served merely to explain why Hotchin had gone to Close Up.  John is the superior broadcaster of the two, but would he have done this particular interview better? I doubt it.

The Viewers – Will many have changed their view of Hotchin after watching the interview? Probably not.


A Little Bird Has Chirped In My Ear…

Randall K Roberts

A little bird, who fled the nest some time ago, has chirped in my ear that when  Jonathan Marshall went to Hawaii to interview Mark Hotchin, the poor boy’s tape-recorder was kaput. That’s what the little bird chirped. I, of course, could not possibly comment. So many little birds have been chirping in my ear this week, it’s been  positively deafening.


The Hotchin Affidavits – Four witnesses swear that Amanda Hotchin did not speak the damaging words attributed to her by the Sunday Star Times

On January 8 of this year I received an email from Amanda Hotchin. The email was in response to a post I had published on 16 May 2010, entitled Reflections on Not Caring in Hawaii. The post was highly critical of the Hotchins and in particular of a statement attributed to Mrs Hotchin in an article in the Sunday Star Times under the by-line of Jonathan Marshall. In the article Marshall reported having approached Mrs Hotchin at the property she and her husband were renting in Hawaii and having asked to speak to her husband, Mark.

According to Marshall, a conversation ensued in which Mrs Hotchin said, “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.” These words appeared in quotation marks and not as reported speech in Marshall’s report, indicating that they were the actual words spoken by Mrs Hotchin.

It was primarily on the basis of this quotation that I and others accused the Hotchins of being indifferent to the plight of thousands of Hanover investors, many of them elderly, who had lost their life savings when the company went under.

In her email to me, Mrs Hotchin claimed that she cared greatly about what happened to the investors and denied that she had ever spoken these words, or anything like them, to Jonathan Marshall. She continued:

The “quote” is pure fabrication. I have four sworn affidavits from people who were present or nearby when I told the reporter to leave the property. Two of those affidavits are from two Americans working on site at the request of the rental management company (who I do not know personally) who overheard our exchange and confirm I said nothing like what I was “quoted” as saying.   Read the rest of this entry »


I receive and respond to an email from Amanda Hotchin

I have written four posts on Mark Hotchin. The first Reflections on not caring in Hawaii was highly critical of Hotchin’s and his wife Amanda’s seeming inability to comprehend why New Zealanders were offended by the contrast between the Hotchins’ current lifestyles and the current lifestyles of the thousands of Hanover investors who had lost not merely huge sums of money but their happiness and peace of mind as a result of Hotchin’s and Eric Watson’s greed and, by the most generous interpretation, mismanagement of the their investments.  

My comments had been largely triggered by a front-page report in the Sunday Star Times headlined Inside Hotchin’s Hawaiian Hideaway, in which Amanda was quoted as having said, “We don’t have to justify where we get our money from or what it is spent on to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.”  

I concluded:  

It really is quite an extraordinary statement, exemplifying as it does all the characteristics of Level 1 moral development – absolute selfishness, lack of conscience and indifference to the welfare of others. I don’t doubt for a moment that these people love their children and are kind to animals. But the misery which their actions have brought to thousands of ‘mum and dad’ investors seems for them to fall into the category of ‘long-distance impersonal harm’, all the more distant from a lounger by the pool in Hawaii.    

I have nothing but contempt for most of the finance company shysters, whether on Wall Street or Queen Street, who have wreaked such havoc in the lives of those who put their trust in them. But really my contempt is wasted. They don’t care. And it is their not caring that is the unforgivable crime.   Read the rest of this entry »


Extra! Extra! Read all about it – Newpaper editor sets out to prove blogger right!


Some of you may have thought I was overstating the descent of the New Zealand Herald from quality broadsheet to trash tabloid in yesterday’s post. If so, today’s front page might just give you pause for thought. The style of the Hotchin headline – provocative quote from bad guy, screamer fonts, cut-through red for the damning evidence – combined with a photograph of Hotchin looking like someone you might expect to see on America’s Most Wanted and body copy which essentially says, ‘Filthy rich bastard wants even more!’ – all of this would sit perfectly comfortably on the front pages of the News of the World or The Sun.

There is  just a slight problem with the headline  which is clearly intended to convey the idea that the words ‘I need $7000 a week’  are a quote, that they were actually spoken by Hotchin. But there’s nothing in the story to support that at all. Indeed, the third para of the story reads: ‘But that’s not enough for Mr Hotchin and the Herald understands he has sought to increase that limit to between $6000 and $7000 so he can pay for rent, living costs, a hire car and private school fees for three children.’  Unless I’ve misunderstood the story, Hotchin didn’t speak the words in the headline at all.  Read the rest of this entry »


Shock! Horror! Front page Herald investigation reveals Mark Hotchin is wealthy man!!!!!

Herald/Brett Phibbs

The Herald devotes most of today’s front page to a story headlined ‘LUXURY HIDEAWAY – Mark Hotchin hot and bothered as Herald calls in’. There’s a large photo of Hotchin looking ‘hot and bothered’, a photo of the ‘luxury hideaway… overlooking the golden sands of Mermaid Beach’ on the Gold Coast and a sidebar reminding readers (How could they have forgotten?)  of other properties owned by Hotchin, including ‘the $30 million extravagant Paritai Dr home in Auckland’.

From this story you will learn that Mark Hotchin is a very rich man with lots of expensive real estate in nice places, whose assets have been frozen but who has been granted a $1,000 a week living allowance.

In other words, from this story you will learn absolutely zip, except perhaps that nothing delights journalists so much as the opportunity to climb on a bandwagon, even if that involves flogging the dead horse pulling it. (Sorry!)

But I did like the use of the term ‘calls in’ in the headline and, later in the story: ‘He’s unhappy that the Herald came calling on his multi-million-dollar Gold Coast property during the weekend.’ I had no idea that Hotchin and the Herald or its reporter Andrew Koubaridis were on such friendly terms that they could just ‘call in’ or ‘come calling’ on their old buddy Mark.  But it does make his angry reception of them all the more bewildering.

As with Tristram Clayton’s airport ambush of Hotchin on Campbell Live, the only sensible words spoken in the Herald story came from Hotchin himself: ‘Leave it to the courts, they’ll sort it out.’  Read the rest of this entry »


Reflections On Not Caring In Hawaii

Sunday Star Times

Sunday Star Times

I seem to recall reading somewhere that ethicists recognise five levels of moral development in human beings, from absolute selfishness, lack of conscience and indifference to the welfare of others at Level 1, to pure altruism, a highly developed moral sense and deep concern for the wellbeing and happiness of others at Level 5.

I suspect that most of us hover between Levels 3 and 4. We’re reasonably honest and caring, but if it comes to them or us, we’ll probably put ourselves or our families first. Few of us are saints and few of us are monsters.

We may also exhibit different levels of moral development in different areas of our life, what you might call the ‘Hitler was fond of animals’ syndrome. It’s the phenomenon that allows us to rip off the insurance company or cheat on our taxes, but be horrified at the idea of stealing money from a blind beggar’s cup. We distinguish between doing close-up personal harm and long-distance impersonal harm, between child abuse and dropping a bomb on Hiroshima.

My mind was drawn to this concept of people being at different levels of moral development when I read the front page story in this morning’s Sunday Star Times headed Inside Hotchin’s Hawaiian Hideaway. Just above the headline was a photograph of Mark Hotchin’s wife Amanda with the quote: ‘We don’t have to justify where we get our money or what it’s spent on, to anyone. I don’t care what anyone says.’  Read the rest of this entry »