At times you may be contacted by members of the media regarding your scholarship, research, teaching or professional expertise. All faculty and staff are free to respond to such requests, however it is important to remember a few key facts.
1. Be prepared and plan the main points you wish to make.
Before an interview, a reporter will generally tell you the topic they want to cover. If they do not, it is perfectly legitimate for you to ask what information they will need so you can be better prepared. It is also perfectly legitimate to postpone the interview slightly (i.e. a few hours) so that you can be better prepared. However, remember that reporters are often under tight deadlines.
Select a few key points you wish to make and think about how to explain them as clearly as possible.
2. Always be honest.
When dealing with negative press especially, never knowingly tell an untruth or exaggerate. Trust is a critical component to developing a positive and enduring relationship with the media.
3. Explain your work clearly and avoid professional jargon.
Speaking in plain English and limiting jargon will help ensure the information you provide is well received and limits the opportunity for error and distortion. If you must use acronyms or unfamiliar terms, explain them.
4. Remember you are speaking to the public when you are talking to a reporter.
Think of what the public would be interested in knowing. Help the reporter, and thus the public, understand the value of your work.
5. Stay away from using the phrase "no comment."
If you are unable to comment, give the honest answer. Using the phrase "no comment" give the impression that there is something to hide.
6. Be prompt, helpful and courteous.
Reporters are often under tight deadlines and need a response quickly. Timeliness to such requests breeds a relationship that is beneficial to both parties.
Never argue. Rather be persuasive but not confrontational. The impression you give them during your contact will likely influence how they cover the story and future stories.
If you are unable or unwilling to respond to a request, forward the media inquiry to another knowledgable source.
7. Keep it brief.
Explain your points clearly, but keep in mind that space in a newspaper or other media outlets is limited.
8. Always assume everything you say is "on the record."
If you don't think it should be published, don't say it. This doesn't mean that you need to be overly serious and colorless, just don't assume you can say something and then take it back.
9. Make sure what you are saying is accurate.
Don't speculate. Stick to your area of expertise. If you don't know the details, either connect the media with someone who does or ask to get back to them after you have gathered the accurate information.
10. Remember you are representing the university and the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences.
If you think what you are saying may reflect negatively on the university or the college, don't say it. Personal opinions should be clearly and carefully identified as such.
11. Contact CAAS Communications/Marketing
Let the communications team know once there has been a media inquiry. It is important that the college is made aware of any inquiries so that there is a coordinated and consistent college response.