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When a reporter calls

Here are some tips to help you get ready for and respond to a reporter's questions. REMEMBER: You can always Contact Media Relations for immediate help.

Gather basic details

  • Write down the reporter's name, media outlet, phone number and story deadline.
  • Ask what the story will be about and how the interview will be used.
  • If  TV or radio is calling, inquire about the interview format (live, taped, etc.).
  • If you're the appropriate expert but aren't prepared to talk, set a later time, but respect the reporter's deadline. Even 15 minutes will help you get ready.
  • If you're not the best expert, refer the reporter to someone who is, or Contact Media Relations.

Prepare for the interview

  • Take a few minutes to write down the brief message(s) you want to convey. 
  • Avoid technical jargon, use lay terms.
  • Make sure your points are clear and succinct.
  • Be ready to support your message with a few examples and facts.
  • Keep in mind what the public needs to know, and how the topic impacts people's lives
  • Anticipate tough questions the reporter might ask.
  • Practice delivering your message(s).

Speak with authority, clarity, energy

  • Offer brief background on the subject at hand if the reporter seems to need it.
  • Assume everything you say is on the record, from the time you meet or talk with the reporter until he or she leaves the room or hangs up.
  • Speak with authority and energy, particularly for TV or radio interviews.
  • State your position in positive terms, even if a reporter's questions turn negative or sound loaded.
  • If the reporter's questions veer off track, politely steer the interview back to your message(s).
  • If you're not sure the reporter understood your main points, ask him or her to repeat them.

Additional tips for when a broadcast reporter calls

  • To film inside buildings on campus, or to film anyone who would easily be identified on TV, broadcast media need permission. Contact Roxanne Makasdjian, manager of broadcast communications, at (510) 642-6051 or for more information.
  • The campus has two broadcast studios where you can be interviewed.

Contact Media Relations