Dealing with the media doesnít have to be a painful process. Often theyíre not sure of the subject matter and may feel as intimidated as you are!
Here are a few tips:
- Designate someone to act as the media Ďspokesperson.í That may be the Board Chairperson, Director, a principal or some other administrator. This step does not always have to be taken, but itís a good idea if the issue is sensitive or controversial and you want one person who can deal with the issues. Choose someone who is well-spoken and knows the facts but speaks in laymanís terms. This person does not have to be the top person in charge; the position is not necessarily the most important criterion.
- When dealing with the media, youíll have to answer the basics: Who; what; when; where; why; and how.
- Be prepared! Know your facts.
- Try to familiarize yourself with the publication or show youíll be on.
- When talking to the media, tell only what you want the interviewer to know.
- Take time to think of your answers. Donít rush to speak and then regret what youíve said. Be careful what you say, and remember that EVERYTHING you say can be used.
- Going Ďoff the recordí is NOT recommended. Itís dangerous and there arenít any guarantees. Simply say, ĎNo, Iím not comfortable with that.í
- Donít be defensive or nasty. Be friendly to the media.
- If possible, try to get to know media people before a Ďcrisisí situation occurs. Perhaps call and suggest a positive story idea you think would highlight your school or division. On a slow news day, this might be appreciated. WARNING: Donít bother the media incessantly.
- Donít lie or bend the truth; it will come back to haunt you. Donít say Ďno comment.í Itís OK to say, "Iím not sure how to answer that.í
- Offer documents, charts or other background information if necessary.
- Talk to the reporter, not the camera.
- Donít say anything you donít want printed, heard or seen.
- Donít do an interview unless you feel comfortable with the issues and you know the facts. If you are not expressing the official (board) view, say so. Make it clear if itís your personal point of view.
- Before the interview, try to think of some difficult questions and what youíd answer to them.
- Express yourself concisely and avoid jargon. Youíre talking to ordinary people! Talk plainly and candidly. Donít bend the truth or try to mislead the reporter. If you donít know the answer, donít fabricate or guess. Say you donít know, and offer to find out the information. If youíre not sure about the question, say so.
- Be sincere about how you feel. If it upsets you, or you feel happy about it, or youíre frustrated, you can say that.
- Be courteous and diplomatic. Suggest that the reporter call later for clarification if needed.
- Listen to the questions! Make sure you answer them. You can add other information you think is important later.
- Smile! Relax!