• Tips on Working with the Media

    So far, we have focused on the Public Information Office acting as a go–between you and the media. But, what should you do if you have to talk directly to a reporter? How should you act? How should you handle yourself?

    If a reporter contacts you—you must notify your principal and/or the Public Information Office! Principals, notify the Superintendent. A reporter who shows up at a school where the principal was not notified may not be let into the school! It is important to do this so that the principal and/or the Public Information Office can "screen" any media requests. The Public Information Office is looking out for both you and the District. We want to help your interview go smoothly, but at the same time ensure that it is a fair and appropriate interview. This screening process helps to ensure that both you and the District are not being set up or being taken advantage of. This process also helps ensure that you and the District are being represented in a fair light.


    Interview Tips

    ·        Be prepared. Anticipate possible questions and how you will respond to them—think in terms of: the who, what, where, when, why and how.
    ·        Pause and collect your thoughts before responding to a reporter's questions.

    ·        Get to your point right away and keep your responses simple and direct. For radio and television, think in terms of sound bites—keep your responses to 30 seconds—otherwise they will edit what you have said and only use a fraction of it.

    ·        Avoid educational jargon. Try to use language that would be readily understood by your students' parents.

    ·        Do not be afraid to say, "I don't know" in response to a question. Tell the reporter you will find out the requested information and get back to them before their deadline. Then do so!

    ·        Do not say, "No comment." If you cannot share the information with them, say so. Tell them that you will call them as soon as you can release it, and then call them. If you cannot reveal the information at all, tell them why.

    ·        Do not ramble because that will be the quote used.

    ·        Avoid what–if questions. You cannot predict the future. Just go directly back to your key messages and the School District's position on the matter.

    ·        There is no such thing as off the record—anything you say to a reporter could wind up in print or in a radio or television broadcast. Do not let a reporter's friendly, sympathetic manner disarm you into giving additional information. Do not assume that any chatty comment is off the record—it is not.