MKR lays down the law

Cook­ing show con­tes­tants warned off re­porters and so­cial me­dia.

Herald on Sunday - - THIS WEEK - By Brit­tany Keogh

Warn­ings about sneaky jour­nal­ists, or­ders not to post any­thing to so­cial me­dia that could be “twisted into a story” in the Her­ald and “is­sue man­age­ment” guide­lines are among the train­ing TVNZ’s pro­vided My Kitchen Rules New Zealand con­tes­tants.

Doc­u­ments ac­ci­den­tally sent to the Her­ald on Sun­day have re­vealed the ex­ten­sive ad­vice — on how to deal with re­porters and dos and don’ts of so­cial me­dia — emailed to the Ki­wis star­ring in the up­com­ing sea­son of the pop­u­lar re­al­ity TV show, pre­mier­ing on Septem­ber 25.

In a doc­u­ment ti­tled “TVNZ So­cial Me­dia Guide­lines — MKR NZ Tal­ent”, TVNZ’s PR team told them to make sure they didn’t com­mit any so­cial me­dia blun­ders.

The guide­lines be­fore post­ing to also stated that so­cial me­dia the com­peti­tors should ask “could this be twisted into a story in the Her­ald”.

“There will likely be jour­nal­ists look­ing for sto­ries, and they are trained in how to dig for dirt so lock­ing up those per­sonal ac­counts is re­ally im­por­tant as they could ruin fu­ture PR op­por­tu­ni­ties, etc,” the doc­u­ment said.

The pub­lic­ity de­part­ment “strongly” en­cour­aged the cast to be ac­tive on so­cial me­dia and en­gage with fans while the show was on air but it also warned of an­other on­line pit­fall — post­ing thought­less or con­tentious com­ments.

“What could be funny to your best mate might be re­ally of­fen­sive to one of your fans . . . It is very easy for a flip­pant com­ment to be mis­con­strued. As lovely as you all are, it’s very easy to ac­ci­den­tally come across as a racist, misog­y­nist or sex­ist.”

The con­tes­tants were also re­peat­edly re­minded they were now rep­re­sen­ta­tives of TVNZ and were con­trac­tu­ally obliged to avoid re­veal­ing any spoil­ers. An­other doc­u­ment ti­tled “Me­dia Train­ing” gave the con­tes­tants tips on in­ter­views, in­clud­ing be­ing hon­est: “Don’t tell lies — it will come back to bite you. “Don’t tempted through pauses jour­nal­ists of­ten leave them in on purpose to tempt you into waf­fling.” The pub­lic­ity de­part­ment would also deal with all “is­sues man­age­ment” dur­ing the sea­son, the doc­u­ment said.

“If some­thing ‘un­for­tu­nate’ hap­pens . . . — de­clare it to us, sooner rather than later. We are not here to judge, to be talk the — we’re here to pro­tect your pro­file. It is bet­ter that we pre­pare for that in case it is made public rather than be­ing sur­prised by a call from the me­dia.”

The cast mem­bers would be­come “public fig­ures” and “celebri­ties” af­ter ap­pear­ing on the show, TVNZ told them, and peo­ple would be in­ter­ested in their lives.

A TVNZ spokes­woman said in re­sponse to in­quiries from the Her­ald on Sun­day about the doc­u­ments that the show would “make house­hold names out of home cooks” and the com­pany pro­vided prac­ti­cal sup­port and guid­ance to help pre­pare con­tes­tants thrust into the spotlight.

“In terms of so­cial me­dia — con­tes­tants can ex­pect to re­ceive a lot of sup­port from fans on so­cial me­dia but it can also be a daunt­ing place when you’re on the re­ceiv­ing end of key­board war­riors.

“So­cial me­dia is also used as a source for me­dia sto­ries and so we make sure our con­tes­tants are aware of this. There may be as­pects of their per­sonal lives away from the show that they want to keep pri­vate.”

Ben Bayly and Gareth Ste­wart hosted the first two sea­sons of the se­ries, but this time the hosts of the Aus­tralian fran­chise — pa­leo en­thu­si­ast Pete Evans and French-born chef Manu Feildel — will front the se­ries.

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