When the Media Calls
The more we help working journalists develop a story, the more cooperative they will be when we pitch stories about FDU.
Most media requests come through the Public Relations Office, but there may be reporters that contact faculty and staff directly. If the reporter’s questions match your area of expertise and you are comfortable in commenting on the issue, feel free to respond. Public Relations is happy to discuss a reporter’s call with you before you respond.
If the questions relate to a University policy or decision that you believe to be sensitive, refer the call to Public Relations, (201) 692-7032, and then let us know your concerns.
When a reporter asks Public Relations to recommend an expert from FDU, the following procedure is used: Office e-mails the expert and leaves a voice mail message outlining the request. Media deadlines are short and a quick response is critical. Please respond to Public Relations as soon as possible, letting us know whether or not you want to talk with the reporter. If you do not want to participate in the story, PR must know that as well so we can pursue additional experts.
When you return a call from a reporter, it is common to get voice mail. Leave your name, title, the number where you can be reached in the next few hours and the topic of discussion. It is acceptable to say, “I am not available until after 3 PM. At that time, use the following contact number …”
Some guidelines concerning your area of expertise
- Return calls quickly, if only to ask about their deadline.
- If you cannot help, let them know.
- Write down the reporter’s name, affiliation, phone number and deadline.
- If you would like a few minutes to think before commenting, offer to call back in 15 minutes. Most reporters will give you at least that much time.
- Make sure you understand the reporter’s point of view. The angle of the story is important.
- Never go “off the record.” Assume everything you say will see print.
- If the issue is complex, take your time.
- Never guess.
- If the request involves a report just released or a breaking news story, the reporter should be able to e-mail or fax you information that is not publicly available. You cannot be expected to comment on a report you have not seen.
- Remember that you are the expert. The reporter is not an expert in this area and most of the viewers or readers are not experts. Explain your position as though you were talking to a neighbor. Be concise and keep the language simple.
- Use examples and specifics for clarity and added interest.
- Volunteer to e-mail your response. A written response, especially if numbers or statistics are used, cuts down on listening errors.
- Double check the spelling of your name and your title.
- If new information comes to mind, don’t hesitate to call the reporter back.
If you plan to participate in a television panel or interview, call the Public Relations office (x7032) for tips and guidelines.