Guidelines for Talking With the Media 


    1.      Know with whom you are talking and what the story angle is before you talk to the reporter.

    2.      Be prepared and proactive with your messages. Have the three key points you want to get across on paper and keep it at hand. Restate them and BRIDGE to them as often as appropriate in the interview. You have an agenda and the reporter wants to hear this for their story. Use their questions to bridge back to this agenda as quickly as possible.

    3.      Be sure not to say anything you wouldn't want to be read in the newspapers—the spoken word can take on far more impact in print.

    4.      Never speak "OFF THE RECORD".

    5.      Do not offer sensitive, confidential, or competitive information.

    6.      Tell the truth. If you don't know the answer tell the reporter that you will get back with them with the appropriate person.

    7.      Be enthusiastic. Sell your point of view with vigor. Don't bore the reporter with information that isn't relevant to his/her readers. Remember that you are speaking to the reporter's readers …through the reporter. Ask yourself what they would want to know about the news you are providing.

    8.      Don't mention other reporters with whom you have spoken about this topic. Each reporter you talk to wants to think that they are getting exclusive information.

    9.      Present the story as if it is new news. Reporters will not write stories if they don't believe the information is NEW, or fresh.

    10. Use simple, understandable words. Use analogies if possible to explain what you are doing. For example, "The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants is leveling the playing field for smaller firms by providing them with the all the resources of a Big Five Firm."

    11. Avoid technical company terms and acronyms …ASD, PSD, AICPA …

    12. Don't EVER talk about the competition or what they are doing. You are giving reporters leads to others to include in the story.

    13. Never fight, argue, or lose your temper with the media. You can't win. Remember the readers you are trying to reach through the reporter.

    14. Don't attempt to answer a question about other company business not in your area. Just say, "I'm here today to talk with you about (subject). That’s not in my area of expertise."

    15. Refer questions you don't have answers to the public relations person.

    16. Think of each interview as an opportunity. Remember, you're not giving an answer you're giving a response. A RESPONSE IS YOUR ANSWER PLUS YOUR MESSAGE.

    17. Keep it short and simple and concise when answering, and try to start with the conclusion and then give the reasons. Reporters have very little time and you need to provide conclusions or benefits first, and then provide the reasons. For example: What's the weather going to be? "It's going to rain. Here's why. There are clouds in the sky. The barometer's falling and my knee hurts."   NOT: "Well there are clouds in the sky, the barometer's falling and my knee hurts. So I think it's going to rain."

    18. Don't let a reporter put words in your mouth. (Are you a crook? NIXON: "No. I'm not a crook!")

    19. Avoid trick questions like "what if," commenting on absent third parties, or provide ranking of issues or topics questions.

    20. End the interview with an opportunity for either you or your PR person to get back with the reporter with additional information. This allows for either you or the PR person to go back and provide your three key points to the reporter. Enjoy yourself and have some fun. Your livelihood doesn't depend on giving interviews, so enjoy the experience rather than treating it like an ordeal.




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