When the media calls
There are a number of important things to consider when the media calls.
- Inform us–all larger and important press activities should be known to Communication in order to avoid mixed messages and confusion for external contacts.
- Consult with Communication before you speak with journalists.
- Respect the university staff's and students' rights to be interviewed for publication.
- Be clear about who you are and your role and place within the university's organisation.
When you meet with a journalist
Before the interview:
- Consider the target audience. With your interview, you can reach decision-makers, clients, employees, members – the journalist is never your target audience.
- Decide what you want to say. Write down your main points. Consider your main message. Limit yourself to a maximum of three messages.
- Do a "test" interview. Have a colleague conduct a practice interview with you. Dare to answer the most difficult questions so that you are well-prepared.
- Choose an appropriate setting. It is often best to be out in "reality" rather than in an office. A good picture will also make sure the article sticks out in the newspaper.
During the interview:
- Observer. Consider if you would like to have someone with you during the interview who can later discuss with you how it went.
- Avoid being an interview "victim". Make sure the journalist knows from the very beginning what your most important message is.
- Don't overestimate the journalist's prior knowledge. You almost always know more than the journalist. Check what the journalist knows about the subject.
- Think "news." Always begin with the main message. Speak simply with comprehensible language.
- Avoid saying "no comment." It can awaken distrust.
- Don't speak "off the record." Just stick to what you want published.
- Tell the truth. Don't speculate. A lie is often discovered, so only speak about what you feel or know for sure. The principle of public access to official records, as well as common sense, means that everyone has a right to gain insight into the university's activities. Journalists should receive the facts they need to be be able to provide as correct a picture as possible.
- Retake a taped interview. If you are displeased with your answer in a taped interview (radio or television), it is often acceptable if you want to provide another answer, so long as you are not a politician who has said too much.
After the interview:
- Don't relax too soon. The interview is not complete until you and the journalist part ways. The last impression is just as important as the first.
- Immediately discuss follow-up.
- Ask to read your quotes. You have the right to read them, but formulate your request as an offer.
- If possible, give positive feedback. If the article was good, send an email.
- Avoid negative feedback. If the article contained factual errors or was not in your favour, let someone else determine if it is worth calling that to the journalist's attention.