Tips for Working with the News Media

 

For the news media to provide an accurate portrayal of SVSU, they must receive accurate information.  When communicating with the news media, it is incumbent on all members of the University community to ensure the veracity of the information they are providing.  If you are unsure whether you are the appropriate person to comment on a particular topic, please contact the media relations officer for guidance. 

Tips for speaking with a reporter:

  • Be sure to obtain the reporter’s name and affiliated news outlet, and ask exactly how you can be of assistance.
  • After determining the reporter’s needs, decide if you are the appropriate spokesperson. If not, refer the reporter to the appropriate party or to University Communications.
  • In today’s 24-hour news cycle, reporters are often operating on tight deadlines.  Respecting these deadlines demonstrates professional courtesy and will generate more effective interaction.  If you are unsure of a reporter’s deadline, it is not impolite to ask.  If you cannot meet his/her deadline, let him/her know so that alternate arrangements can be made.
  • If a reporter contacts you unexpectedly, do not feel compelled to comment immediately.  Ask for his/her number and make arrangements to call him/her back.  Taking a few moments to collect your thoughts or refresh your memory by reviewing relevant materials will make you more prepared (and comfortable) and will likely yield a more productive interview for the reporter.
  • Many newspaper and radio interviews will be conducted over the phone.  In these instances, you should use the handset, not a speaker phone.  In addition, close your office door to avoid distraction and background noise.
  • Television interviews will usually be conducted in person.  It is generally recommended that you look at the reporter who is asking the questions rather than looking into the camera directly, unless otherwise instructed.
  • Avoid the use of unfamiliar jargon and speak in simple, declarative sentences as much as possible.  Print reporters are likely to use shorter quotes and broadcast reporters will edit for sound bites. 
  • If you feel a statement could be communicated more clearly, do not hesitate to re-state your thoughts before moving on to the next question.
  • Finally, remember not to say anything you wouldn’t want to read in tomorrow’s newspaper or see on the 6:00 news.