How to Work With the Media

Index:

What the media thinks is newsworthy

  • Timely stories that tie-in to current events such as breaking news, trends and holidays

  • Human interest stories that put a human face on issues and programs

  • Stories that are visually compelling

Examples of UW-Stout stories

  • Profiles of students who demonstrate applied learning

  • Faculty and staff “experts” who can comment on current events and breaking news

  • Specific and visual examples of how UW-Stout contributes to the community

  • Interesting and visual examples of faculty, staff and/or student accomplishments within programs

  • Profiles of graduating students during commencement week

General tips and guidelines
when working with the media

  • When a reporter calls, ask his or her name and media affiliation

  • Ask when a reporter’s deadline is; let him or her know whether you can meet this deadline

  • Anticipate a reporter’s questions and develop answers

  • Clearly and briefly state one or two key points. Keep your message clear; use phrases such as
    • The key point is …
    • The bottom line is …
    • The one thing people need to realize …
    • Let me repeat that, because it’s such a critical point …
    • One trend we see …
    • What is especially exciting/surprising/unexpected …

  • Mention UW-Stout in your remarks and ask your interviewer to properly identify your affiliation with the university

  • Think before you speak

  • Speak slowly in short, concise sentences or “sound bites”

  • Avoid jargon

  • Don’t assume a conversation, comment or observation is “off the record” just because you say it is

  • Never lie to a reporter

  • Never talk down to a reporter; while they may be generalists, they are intelligent and arrogance will come across to the audience

  • Radio reporters may ask to tape an interview over the telephone; this is common practice, but the reporter should inform you of the taping before it begins

  • Notify University Communications when you have been interviewed by the media so the outcome is documented

  • If you are not comfortable returning a reporter’s call, University Communications will be glad to return the media call for you

  • You are under no obligation to answer a reporter’s questions

  • “No comment” may be the worst response you can give to a reporter

Additional tips for TV interviews

  • Tone down colors; vertical lines, subdued colors and simple jewelry lend authority and seriousness to your remarks

  • Wear clothing that fits

  • You have a right to ask a reporter ahead of time what material will be covered and to inform the reporter what areas you will or will not comment on

  • If a reporter refuses to provide this information, you can always decline the interview

  • If a reporter says he or she will not ask questions on a topic and then does so on the air, please let University Communications know immediately

  • Sit up straight; if you wear a suit or jacket, sit on the tail to prevent it from “riding up” your neck

  • Watch your body language on TV

  • Television reporter routinely shake their heads as if nodding in agreement with the speaker; you may start nodding your head too

  • You may be saying “no,” but your head may be saying “yes”

  • Keep yourself focused on the interview

  • Avoid getting “cozy” with the interviewer or situation

  • Some of the most embarrassing mistakes occur not because of tough questions, but because the speaker begins to babble

  • Be on time; unlike a print reporter, you can’t call back later to interview with the electronic media

  • If possible speak with the interviewer before going on camera to ensure you both have expectations of the material to be discussed

  • Provide the interviewer with a brief paragraph outlining the subject in question and your views about it; University Communications can help you prepare such a paragraph
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