UNH Media Relations
When a Reporter Contacts You for an Interview
- When contacted by a reporter, respond promptly as media work under tight deadlines – ideally within the next couple of hours. When making the initial contact, ask the reporter for his/her full name, name of media outlet, the general content and angle of the story, and the reporter’s deadline for the story.
- If you need to check information and further prepare for the interview, let the reporter know when you will be able to respond and be interviewed. If you are unavailable for the interview, let the reporter know.
- If you want to do the interview, you decide the place of interview (in your office, on phone, by email), length of interview, time of the interview, and whether it is tape recorded. If a radio journalist calls you on the phone, ask if you're being recorded.
- If a television station asks for an interview, assume it will be on camera. Broadcast journalists also may want to interview you in the UNH Media Relations broadcast studio in the New England Center.
Preparing for the Interview
- Determine your objective before the interview. What do you want to say? What are the top three research findings you want the reporter to know about?
- Assume any question is fair game, and decide ahead of time how you will handle the controversial ones. List questions you would not want to be asked, and develop brief answers. If you believe a question is out of line or has little to do with the subject, say so, and move on. Don't dwell on a question you don't want to answer.
- Newspaper reporters may call you "cold" and begin asking questions. Be upfront and ask: "Is this the interview now or did you want to set something up?" If a reporter's call catches you unprepared, tell them you'd like to call back either when you're not "tied up" or when you had a chance to get the information they want. Even if you have the facts and the time, it might be beneficial to take a moment to prepare yourself or run your thoughts by a colleague or someone at Media Relations.
- Assume anything you say to a reporter (whether in the middle of an interview or the middle of a grocery store) is "on the record," unless you specifically state that it is "off the record." To avoid any confusion, however, simply never say anything to a reporter you wouldn't want to see in print or on the local news.
- Talk from the viewpoint of the public's interest. How is this new research applicable to the "real world?" How is this new legislation going to affect our friends and families? Also work the local angle when something happens nationally. "What can parents in the Seacoast do to protect their children from Internet predators?" This may be a question for a UNH faculty expert.
- State the most important points you want to make first, and return to that point toward the end of the interview.
- Keep comments short and to the point. Don't ramble on with narratives, anecdotes and extraneous fluff.
- The "less is more" technique especially applies to broadcast sound bites. Expert comments on news broadcasts are seldom longer than one or two phrases, so try to keep your comments short and clear -- limit each answer to about 20 seconds.
- Use language everybody understands. Save the academic jargon for professional journals.
- Feel free to have someone from Media Relations, or a colleague, sit in with you during the interview. It could reduce the tension or intimidation of being in a room or broadcast studio with a reporter.
- Don't ask the reporter to send you a copy of the story before it is printed. Very few will, and most will be offended that you asked.
- When you receive a call from a reporter, please notify Tracey Bentley as soon as possible at (603) 862-5149 or firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have an immediate need and Tracey isn’t available don’t hesitate to contact Erika Mantz, director of UNH Media Relations, at (603) 862-1567; (603) 969-7916; or email@example.com
- Don't nitpick over minor details or the angle of a story, but do alert Media Relations and/or Tracey Bentley if there are factual errors in the story.
- Unless the broadcast or publication is unavailable locally, don't ask for a copy or tape. Find out when the story is running, and set your DVR or pick up a paper. Media Relations also may be able to locate a copy for you through its online clipping service.