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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
- The campus has two broadcast studios where you can be interviewed.