The media usually serves as an invaluable community informant during natural and man-made disasters. It is important to keep reporters informed and involved throughout the situation as they will help disseminate any important information you need to share with constituents and community members.
Remember to be proactive. Keep press releases, collateral material and online information up to date and available for use. Make sure that links to websites are still current and active.
- Before granting an interview request, evaluate the significance of the request (e.g., small local paper versus large national paper versus trade publication), and the angle or tone with which the reporter is likely to write the story. It is always okay to decline an interview request.
- Make sure to gather data and supporting materials and prepare and rehearse key messages prior to the interview.
- When interviewing, briefly answer the reporter’s question, and move on to the message you want to give.
- Always be honest, but avoid speculation. If you’re not sure of the answer, simply state that you don’t know, and that you’ll look into the matter after the interview.
- Reporters often use uncomfortable gaps of silence during an interview to get you to talk more. To avoid over sharing, it’s best to stop talking when you are finished answering a question.
- If you need to redirect, pose a new question and answer it yourself.
- Reporters like reliable resources. Follow up after the interview to make sure they have the information they need.
- Keep in mind that asking to speak "off the record" or "on background" does not always work. Reporters disregard these requests all the time. Anything you say to a reporter could potentially end up in the story; be prepared for interviews and speak with care.