(Related post: How the People’s Action Party can find its voice in social media)

The Channel NewsAsia Political Forum on Saturday threw light to how the opposition, save for Singapore Democratic Party’s Vincent Wijeysingha, is not ready for the media spotlight.

Singapore Progressive Party’s Lina Chiam and Nazem Suki of the Singapore Democratic Alliance were the two worst performers in the forum. Both stumbled and sometimes failed to string a proper sentence or two to deliver the parties’ mandate. They made it seem that that their parties’ do not have any mandate at all but to win a parliamentary seat from the ruling party.

Workers' Party Gerald Giam did his best but he still showed the lack of media savvy to take full advantage of the medium.

Even if traditional media played fair and balance, not being ready for the media could dampen the confidence of the voters you are looking to sway.

The best advice I can give to the opposition party is to hire a PR or ex-media professional to train the selected key speaker on how to talk to the media. Media training usually take two days or three, and there is still time to go for one before the rallies start.

During such media training, most PR agencies will train you on how to identify and deliver your party’s key message/s to the people via the media.

Key message/s are important for any media interviews. You know you have been successful in delivering a key message when the readers remember it even after reading or watching the interview.

In the age of social media, this is easily measurable when bloggers talk about that key message after the interview.

I would believe that the opposition parties would have the similar key message – they are an alternative to the currently ruling party.

However, when delivering your key message, it must be backed by something to make it believable and authentic.

That is where SDP’s Vincent Wijeysingha did very well during his time in the forum. He backed his key message of his party being an alternative by showing the audience that the SDP has a shadow budget.

Though Worker’s Party Gerald Giam did try his best to articulate his party’s key message for a need for a credible alternative government, he did not back it up with something authentic that the party has done for Singapore.

Once you identified and developed that key message, the media training will also teach you to to bridge the questions so that you can fall back on repeating the key message/s.

Though the media training lasts only two days, daily rehearsals are necessary to improve on media skills.

Get a camcorder, there are quite affordable ones in Sim Lim Square these days, and practise being interviewed by the media. Get one of your party members to ask you questions. Get your party members to ask you standard questions and surprise you with new ones so you get the hang of speaking in front of the camera.

Record every interview and note your body language which is also important too.

You don’t need to have that perfect voice for TV but if you train well enough to handle the media, you could turn it into an advantage.

So opposition parties, go hire a PR agency today for media training before future media gaffes result in lost of votes.

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