Dealing with the Press

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Dealing with the Press

  1. 1. Dealing with Media: How to Survive a Media Encounter with your Professionalism Intact
  2. 2. Commit to memory: <ul><li>“ Four hostile newspapers are to be more feared than 1000 bayonets” </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Napoleon Bonaparte </li></ul></ul></ul>
  3. 3. First and Foremost <ul><li>A news interview is your opportunity to tell your story to a LOT of people. </li></ul><ul><li>Media carries with it status conferral . </li></ul><ul><li>Almost all interviews are “soft.” </li></ul><ul><li>Do NOT treat the reporter like the enemy , or he/she may become one. </li></ul><ul><li>NEVER FORGET : What you look like to the reporter, you will look like to the masses! </li></ul>
  4. 4. When a Reporter Calls: <ul><li>Be polite , but too busy to talk. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask what info the reporter is looking for, and how you can help. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask the reporter’s deadline . </li></ul><ul><li>Obtain the reporter’s phone number. </li></ul><ul><li>Tell them you will call back . </li></ul><ul><li>Hang up.!! </li></ul><ul><li>Verify his/her news outlet. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Once off the phone: <ul><li>Review the requested info. </li></ul><ul><li>Check your files for related information. </li></ul><ul><li>Call others to see if they have been contacted and, if so, how they responded. </li></ul><ul><li>Look for the “hook.” </li></ul><ul><li>Think of other info the reporter might need or use. </li></ul><ul><li>Make a list of possible questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Develop answers to the questions. </li></ul><ul><li>List a message point or two you want to get across </li></ul><ul><li>Call the reporter back. </li></ul>
  6. 6. At this point: <ul><li>The game is about control . </li></ul><ul><li>Remember no matter how well you may know him or her, the reporter is a reporter, NOT your friend. </li></ul><ul><li>Become a resource! </li></ul><ul><li>Yours should be an equal business relationship. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Print & Broadcast Nuances <ul><li>Print Reporters: </li></ul><ul><li>* Have more time to “work” the story </li></ul><ul><li>* Love facts, figures, anecdotes </li></ul><ul><li>* Will generally ask better, more probing questions </li></ul><ul><li>* Will have done more homework </li></ul><ul><li>Radio/Television Reporters: </li></ul><ul><li>* Are there mainly for the sound bite </li></ul><ul><li>* Are always pressed for time </li></ul><ul><li>* Don’t like complicated, detailed answers </li></ul>
  8. 8. During the Interview: <ul><li>LISTEN carefully to the questions! </li></ul><ul><li>LISTEN more carefully to your answers! </li></ul><ul><li>LISTEN for “hot” or “loaded” words. </li></ul><ul><li>LISTEN for hypotheticals </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t know an answer, say so. </li></ul><ul><li>If you don’t know but you should , offer to look it up and call back. </li></ul><ul><li>Take and maintain CONTROL! </li></ul>
  9. 9. A Word about Sound bites: <ul><li>Sound bite: A 9 – 15 second statement that answers the question completely. </li></ul><ul><li>Both print and electronic reporters love them. </li></ul><ul><li>Not all answers can be sound bites!- just warn the reporter </li></ul><ul><li>Sound bite answers help address the “out of context” problem </li></ul><ul><li>Like them or not, for the foreseeable future, sound bites are here to stay. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Some Tips to Remember : <ul><li>1 . One word answers make lousy sound bites! </li></ul><ul><li>2. Don’t be in intimidated when the reporter makes specific references to things in your field </li></ul><ul><li>3. Maintain eye contact with the reporter, not the camera. </li></ul><ul><li>4.Take time to think before you answer . </li></ul><ul><li>5. Be aware of the background! </li></ul>
  11. 11. Message Points: <ul><li>Definition: A positive piece of information you’d like to see in the story. </li></ul><ul><li>You should always have one, two, or three main messages that you want to get through to the reporter during the interview. </li></ul><ul><li>Watch for – or create – opportunities to bring up your message points as the interview is going on. </li></ul><ul><li>Try to be subtle! </li></ul>
  12. 12. NEVER..and I mean EVER!!! <ul><li>Lie. </li></ul><ul><li>Get Angry . </li></ul><ul><li>Respond for someone else. </li></ul><ul><li>Respond to facts or statements provided by the reporter </li></ul><ul><li>Volunteer information </li></ul><ul><li>Use industry jargon </li></ul><ul><li>Say “No comment!” </li></ul><ul><li>Interrupt the reporter when he/she is asking you a question. </li></ul>
  13. 13. Deadlines: <ul><li>Reporters are always on deadline! </li></ul><ul><li>Deadlines are the reporter's problem , not yours. </li></ul><ul><li>HOWEVER: If you can meet the reporter’s deadline, do it! </li></ul><ul><li>Under no circumstances give any response with which you are not comfortable just to help them make deadline!! </li></ul><ul><li>Reporters would rather have no information than bad information . </li></ul>
  14. 14. The Language of the field: <ul><li>“ Attribution.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ According to John Smith, farm manager at Smith Farms, last night’s freeze will not damage the area’s vegetable crop.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Background.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ According to farmers, last night’s freeze will not damage the area’s vegetable crop.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Off the record.” </li></ul>
  15. 15. Regarding “Off the record” <ul><li>It’s a serious gamble . </li></ul><ul><li>It involves more than just the reporter! </li></ul><ul><li>Best to avoid. </li></ul><ul><li>“ If you don’t want to see it in print, don’t say it! </li></ul>
  16. 16. Some things to note. . . . . <ul><li>Once a reporter leaves, its their story. </li></ul><ul><li>Reporters are generalists: Teach them! </li></ul><ul><li>Stay in your role. </li></ul><ul><li>The interview is always going on. </li></ul><ul><li>Better to be a part of the story than not. </li></ul>
  17. 17. The Bottom Line: <ul><li>You can do everything right in the news interview situation and it can still blow up in your face; there is always a degree of risk involved. </li></ul><ul><li>Learn to be okay with silence . </li></ul><ul><li>Be calm – Don’t talk until you’re ready – shut up when you’re done! </li></ul>

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