The day I was eaten by Dawn French.

It was 1993.  I was 23 and working in London as a reporter for a program called London Tonight.  Each day I’d be sent off to interview big name celebrities like Calvin Klein, Emma Thompson, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Kenneth Branagh and then there was one very memorable encounter with Dawn French and her Absolutely Fabulous co writer Jennifer Saunders.

It was possibly the most humiliating interview experience of my career.  They ridiculed me in front of a dozen other waiting journalists – I was like a rabbit completely trapped in the headlights of an oncoming car.  When the ordeal was over I limped out, wondering what the hell just happened.

Back at the edit suite all the crappy name calling, rude remarks and moments of total disregard for me, novice reporter, were cut out.  What went to air was safe and boring.

At the time I remember a part of me wanting to run the interview in it’s entirety.  To show Dawn and Jennifer for real.  Complete bitches.

Granted my questions were probably incredibly pedestrian, I looked about 12 years old and I had never interviewed comedians before.  But still they were like two lionesses sizing up their defenceless prey and make no mistake they went in for the kill!

My big lesson – comedians often don’t like being interviewed.  Don’t arrive with a list of questions just go with the flow.

But back to Dawn – Mumbrella reports that Dawn is about to start selling us Coles Flybuy points.  I guess she must be popular here – just not with me.

Media training word cloud.

Media training 101.

A recent report on Lyme Disease for Channel 7′s Sunday Night highlighted the dangers of “over training” for media interviews. The spokesman for NSW Health, Dr Jeremy McAnulty was edited to show he repeated what was described in the story as a “well-rehearsed line” over and over again.

Journalists are very cynical about spokespeople who stick so closely to key messages that questions become obsolete. Read more

Why reading aloud to your children will make you a better public speaker.

We all know the benefits of reading to our children.  Educators repeatedly tell us it’s one of the
most important things we can do to improve literacy.

But just in case you needed another incentive to curl up with your child and read you’ll be pleased to know that while you’re reading, you are also improving your public speaking skills.

Reading out loud, with lots of expression, emphasis and  intonation is a vital part of story-telling.  We do it naturally for  our kids but we tend to leave those skills at home when we stand up to deliver
a presentation.

So the next time you get up to speak in a public setting think about how you would deliver your speech to a child.  Slow down.
Pause after you make an important point.
Emphasise your key messages. Inject some energy and enthusiasm into your delivery.

My six year old is a tough critic.  She’ll tell me she’s bored and she’ll ask for more expression.  Adults may not be as blunt but they’ll switch off just as quickly.


When repeated messaging can backfire.

A recent report on Lyme Disease for Channel 7′s Sunday Night highlighted the dangers of “over training” for media interviews. The spokesman for NSW Health, Dr Jeremy McAnulty was edited to show he repeated what was described in the story as a “well-rehearsed line” over and over again.
Journalists are very cynical about spokespeople who stick so closely to key messages that questions become obsolete.
I’ve attached a link to the Sunday Night story. Watch the way Channel 7 has edited Dr McAnulty. In my opinion Channel 7 has played a fair game. Dr McAnulty and other experts who face the media need to be careful about rote learning key messages prepared for them by PR consultants. Journalists are a wake up to the “stick to my message at all costs” school of media training.

Just say sorry then zip it!

Following Yumi Stynes and George Negus’s ridiculous comments on Channel 10’s The Circle (if you missed them here they are on Today Tonight) the backlash from ordinary punters through social media channels has been nothing short of extraordinary. Yumi and George faced the music on The Project, but then completely ruined any chance of public forgiveness when they made a somewhat half hearted attempt to apologise to Corporal Ben Roberts Smith VC.
I’m sorry George and Yumi, but if you’re going to apologize then just say SORRY.
Not I’m sorry but what I really meant was ….
Or I’m sorry but if you read my comments you’ll see the humour.

That’s not a real apology. Even after all the complaints, I don’t think these two very experienced broadcasters feel they’ve done anything wrong.

Maybe next time Yumi and George you might think before you speak. (Ironic really when Yumi’s jibe was about Ben having to look for his brain. Think she may have lost hers.)
And if you’re forced to apologise at least look like you mean it.

National Eating Disorders Collaboration appoints a Media Advisory Group.

I am really honored to be included in a new Media Advisory Group (MAG) which has been set up to help raise awareness about eating disorders in Australia.

The objective of MAG is to develop media industry guidelines for reporting and depicting eating disorders, disordered eating and issues of negative body image in all media. These guidelines will have a strong reference to current suicide and mental health reporting guidelines used widely in Australia as well as the Body Image advisory guidelines developed by the Australian Government in 2010.

Australia is experiencing a two-fold increase in eating disorder behaviour, with data indicating that approximately 15% of Australian women will need clinical intervention for an eating disorder in their lifetime.

The NEDC will deliver the first national blueprint to the Australian Government by mid 2012 delivering the entire sector a point to start planning and delivering significant changes for Australians who are at risk of eating disorders.

The Media Advisory Group members are:
• Gemma Crisp – Editor, Cosmopolitan magazine
• Adam Cresswell – Health Editor, The Australian
• Tiffany Dunk – Editor, Dolly magazine
• Shelly Horton – Editor at large, Sun Herald
• Rachel Friend – media commentator and contributor
• Susanna Larson – Director Corporate Communication, SBS
• Caroline Marcus – Reporter, Sunday Telegraph
• Julie Robotham – Health Editor, Sydney Morning Herald
• Sophie Scott – Health and medical editor, ABC
• Sarah Tarca – Editor, Girlfriend magazine
• Lisa Wilkinson – Presenter, Today Show Channel 9

For more information about eating disorders go to webcast

If you are a parent or a grandparent of a child about to head back to school make sure you check out the videos I’ve posted on the home page. The forum was produced for and aims to answer questions commonly asked by parents. Hear from Dr Martine Walker, a Sydney GP, Beverley Thirkell a teen psychologist, Sue Brown Principal of Uralla Central School and Gregory Prior, the Deputy Director General of Schools NSW.
Visit for more information on technology, wellbeing, homework, study and lots more and feel free to post a comment about the videos.


Tips for children returning to school.

Rachel Friend facilitates this four part webcast about the top tips for returning to school.  This webcast was produced for the NSW Department of Education and Communities.  Getting Off To A Great Start is the first chapter in the series and gives parents practical tips on how to get their child back into a school routine and ready for a great year of learning.  For more information go to

Doing Well in Class

Rachel Friend facilitates this discussion on how to help your child achieve their best in the class room for the NSW Department of Education and Communities website