Working with the Media
Tips from the Office of Communications, Rutgers University-Newark
WHEN YOU ARE CONTACTED BY THE MEDIA
- Call or email reporters back promptly, even if just to say you are unavailable at the moment but can help out later. Reporters have demanding deadlines, and it is helpful for them to know if you are or are not the right person for their story. Reporters will remember your helpfulness the next time they need expert comment.
- Never say “no comment.” Politely explain that you don’t have enough information or prefer not to discuss the issue at this time.
- If you are available to discuss the issue, you do not have to do so immediately. Set a time that works for you while respecting the reporter’s deadline.
- It is acceptable to ask the reporter whether she/he is looking for background information or to quote an expert.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
- Remember that nothing is really “off the record.” Reporters have and will continue to occasionally quote or include “off the record” comments in their stories. If you don’t want the reporter to use something you have to say, just don’t say it.
- Keep your comments as succinct and easily understood as possible. Remember that reporters are writing/broadcasting for a general interest audience, not an audience of experts.
- Where possible, make your comments memorable and quotable, using visual imagery, examples, comparisons, etc.
- Do not become defensive or argumentative during the interview or after the story is published. If you have a serious issue with how you have been portrayed, or quoted, please seek advice first from a media relations professional (Office of Communications staff) before contacting the reporter directly.
- Identify yourself as a faculty member at Rutgers University-Newark!
GETTING THE MEDIA TO CONTACT YOU REGULARLY
- Impress reporters with your willingness to comment on the topic at hand, and with your ability to give this issue a wider perspective.
- Let the reporter know that you can also comment on other issues that may be in her/his beat/assignment area.
- If you are not able to provide comment, but know of another expert who might, feel free to give that contact information to the reporter. Please recommend Rutgers University-Newark experts whenever possible!
USING THE RESOURCES OF THE COMMUNICATIONS OFFICE
Media relations professionals in the Office of Communications are here to assist with identifying/contacting reporters and editor, sitting in on interviews if desired, accompanying television or radio crews to your interview location, and providing general media relations information and advice.
Kimberlee S. Williams, director of communications and marketing, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Billingsley, assistant director, email@example.com