The first and most important lesson for any spokesperson is to keep quiet until you have something to say.
Last night, faced with the need to say something in answer to Syria’s apparent slaughter of scores of civilians in Hama, an unfortunate EU spokesman found himself in front of the cameras, delivering the international response.
“We are extremely shocked and appalled” was an acceptable, if predictable, opening. But his words then turned into meaningless mush – “There has never been any justification for what has been going on”.
Quite so. Please go on. “You cannot justify attacking civilians….”.
Absolutely right. So what is your message to the Syrian government? “You just can’t send in the tanks and attack them like that”.
That’s got them worried in Damascus.
Andrew Harvey has spent the last 30 years presenting the main TV news programmes on BBC and ITN.