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Media Do's and Don'ts
This document is intended to serve as a guide during all media interviews. You should refer to it often as a reminder and use it as a reference during a possible crisis communications scenario.
- Be sure to have the facts about the reporter and the publication. What is the reporter's beat? What is the publication's demographic? Ideally you should read the reporter's past articles to have a sense of his/her writing style.
- Know your story. The key to giving a good interview is knowing the story you want to tell the reporter. What is it you want to say about camp and the camp experience?
- Prepare talking points. Draft two to three talking points that you would like to get across during the interview. Understand what the reporter is writing about and "bridge" to your key talking points.
- Use statistics. If the article is about camp in general, you may want to reference the impact camp can have on children.
- Use quotable language. Reporters are often looking for quotable language or sound bites that help tell a story.
- Anticipate questions. Ask someone to give you a list of questions and practice answering the questions. It's best not to try to memorize any information but rather to be able to effectively communicate your talking points.
- Use specifics, analogies, and anecdotes to help "humanize" and tell your story.
- Remember the interview begins once the reporter enters the property or begins the telephone call and doesn't end until they leave the property or conclude the call.
- Be assertive but non-confrontational. Most reporters are objective and want to cover both sides of the story.
- Be simple, to the point, and brief.
- Avoid saying "no comment." If you don't know the answer, and the interview is live and on-camera, bridge to one of your talking points. If the interview is with a print reporter or over the phone, tell the reporter you will find the information and get back with him or her.
- Avoid jargon. Remember the reporter won't know you're talking about if you use acronyms, etc.
- Do not talk "off the record."
- Don't repeat the reporter's language unless it is what you want to say.
- Don't use negative language. Negative language is quotable. Example: "We did not know."
For broadcast (television) interviews:
- The television will "frame" your face. So make sure you appear relaxed and look at the interviewer, not the camera.
- Sit back in your chair with your back erect. Avoid slouching.
- Avoid wearing stripes or patterns. Dark clothes look best on television.
- Avoid long, confusing answers. Most sound bites are less than 10 seconds.