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What to do When the Media Calls

Most of the time, when a media outlet calls, it's a great thing! It's an opportunity to share The W's message with the world around us.

The Office of University Relations staff is composed of media professionals, with years of experience working in TV, newspaper and magazines.

We've put together a few tips on what to do when the media calls.

When a reporter calls...

Get some information
Know some background before you offer a comment. You may ask the reporter, "Tell me a little about the story you are working on." Most journalists will not submit questions in advance, but it is OK to ask reporters about the story, so you can be prepared with answers to their questions.

Take some time to gather your thoughts
It's okay to say, "I'm not available for an interview right now. Can we get together (in half an hour; around 1)?" Don't be rushed into saying the first thing that comes to your mind if a reporter catches you off guard.
Keep in mind that most journalists work on a day-of schedule, so don't put them off until another day. You should also be mindful of their deadline. (Don't worry they'll tell you when that is!) So schedule the interview at a time that's convenient to you, but gives the reporter plenty of time to finish before deadline.

In an emergency
During times of emergency, the campus should have only one voice and one message. Sometimes, reporters will try to call other people who may tell them what is going on. It is important that in these situations that you not answer any questions and refer all calls to University Relations, (662) 329-7119.

Before the Interview...

Contact University Relations for tips and help
Our staff has conducted interviews as reporters and been interviewed before. We can help! From providing you with the best location to even doing a mock interview to prepare you, we are here to make your media appearance an enjoyable experience.

What to wear

Dress Professionally
Whether you are being interviewed by a print or broadcast journalist, remember that you are representing The W, and should dress the part.

If you are wearing a shirt or a blouse similar to your skin tone, add a coat, sweater or scarf to highlight your face.

Avoid small check or striped patterns
Very narrow stripes and checks can create a distortion on camera and are very distracting to the viewer.

Be aware of your surroundings
If your interview will be in a room with a grey wall, don't wear a grey suit.

Other items to prepare

Three Points
Come up with three clear points you would like to make during the interview. You don't have to write them down, or memorize the responses, but you want to make sure you are prepared to keep on topic.

Be on time
If you are meeting the reporter at a location on campus, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to arrive.

During the Interview...

Spell your name
It's common practice for reporters to ask you to spell your first and last name and give your title, even if your name is "Bill Smith."

This is an exciting moment. Just remember to relax and breathe. Speak slowly and clearly.

Be mindful of your gestures
We all have a nervous gesture, something we do when we are in an uncomfortable situation – tapping the desk, bobbing your head – be aware of these, recognize when you are doing them.

Look at the reporter
This is particularly true if you're being interviewed for television. Make eye contact and ignore the camera.

Avoid highly technical jargon
Unless you are being interviewed by a trade publication, the audience will likely know little or nothing about your field of expertise. Avoid using technical jargon and abbreviations or explain what they mean.

Give "sound bite" answers
Think of the last time you watched a newscast or read a newspaper. You typically didn't see long, drawn out quotes or pieces of an interview. You also won't likely see very short "Yes" or "No" responses. Your responses should be long enough to express a complete thought, but shouldn't drag on.


After the Interview...

Thank the reporter for taking the time interview you

Give them your business card

Invite them to contact you again for future stories

Ask, "do you have any idea when this story might run?"

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University Relations

1100 College Street
Columbus, MS 39701

Stovall House
Phone: (662) 329-7119
Fax: (662) 329-7123