Talking to reporters can be exciting, daunting, and down-right nerve-wracking. Below are a few tips that can help you effectively deal with the media from HPAC’s Tania deLuzuriaga.
- It’s your interview, not the reporter’s.
- Decide in advance what you do and do not want to say to a reporter.
- Decide one or two main points you want to get across.
- Write your key points and supporting facts down to help you prepare.
- The story you want to tell may not be the angle the reporter is seeking.
- Don’t be afraid to ask a reporter what their story is about before you accept an interview request.
- Do your homework to understand how your points fit into the story.
Be concise (Get to the point quickly and stay there.)
- Respond quickly to reporters; they work on tight deadlines.
- Lead with your key points.
- Make your key points over and over.
- Make your key points almost regardless of the questions asked.
- ‘Juicy’ or sensational comments WILL find their way into a story.
- Always remember, things you say outside the ‘interview’ can find their way into a story.
Keep it simple.
- Reporters are looking for clear, simple, ‘lively’ quotes that can be understood by a wide audience.
- Don’t throw a lot of information at a reporter and assume he/she will know what to emphasize.
Handling tough stuff.
- Set ground rules for the interview up front:
- Are you talking on the record or on background?
- Would the reporter be willing to repeat/email the quotes he/she will use?
- If you talk off the record, you must announce that condition in advance.
- Don’t assume a reporter understands the background of a story. Talk ‘on background’ if needed.
- Avoid answering loaded or ludicrous questions.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question or need time to collect data or your thoughts, tell the reporter you will get back with him or her later with an answer.