News Media Guidelines

Guidelines for Working With the News Media

  • Never respond before having all the facts. Always call the reporter back (this buys you preparation time and the chance to review these media guidelines).
  • Communicate with your supervisor and key administrators immediately.
  • Develop a written statement (keep it as simple as writing your thoughts down on a 3×5 card).
  • Consult with the District spokesperson as soon as possible.
  • Relay information to reporters on a timely basis. Release the necessary facts of the situation. Stick to your written statement.
  • Focus on the solutions, not the crisis.
  • Do not make light of any “crisis.” Every situation is serious if the media is at your doorstep.
  • Notify PTA, School Community Group leaders, and civic officials with the facts of the situation. It’s better they hear it from you than on the news. Don’t rely on the media to tell the whole story.
  • Keep cool. Do not get provoked.
  • Never take it or make it personal.
  • It’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
  • Speak in short, concise sentences.
  • “Spin” your answer in a way so you can get your message out.
  • When possible, prepare, prepare, prepare.
  • Never lie.
  • Always be a professional.
  • Be accommodating, but remember your top priorities are your students and staff, not the reporters.
  • Stay calm.
  • Do not shift blame.
  • Never speak on behalf of the District.
  • When appropriate, apologize.
  • It’s fine to show emotion if the situation dictates.
  • No media favoritism.
  • Reassure parents of students’ safety.
  • Don’t think just because the reporter has stopped taking notes or the camera is shut off that the interview is over.
  • Trust your instincts.

20 Tips for Successful News Interviews

  1. Learn as much as possible about the reporter, the issues, the angle.
  2. Determine three talking points and stick to them.
  3. Get your message across, no matter what questions are asked.
  4. Speak in short sentences, no more than 10-15 seconds per answer.
  5. Use simple, direct words. Avoid educational jargon and technical terms.
  6. Be assertive, candid, friendly, not funny.
  7. Use bridging techniques to keep control of the interview.
  8. Avoid mannerisms that distract from your message. Dress professionally.
  9. Don’t fidget or fold your arms.
  10. Look directly at the reporter.
  11. Take a deep breath and focus your thoughts before you speak.
  12. Make sure your mind is in gear before your mouth travels.
  13. Anticipate the reporter’s questions.
  14. Use specific examples, emotions, personal experiences.
  15. Always tell the truth and stick to the facts. Never speculate.
  16. Make sure all facts and figures are accurate.
  17. Structure your answers: headline, examples and detail, conclusion.
  18. Nothing is off the record.
  19. If you don’t know the answer, say so and offer to get it.
  20. Be confident, polite and courteous.