Media interviews: Do’s and Don’ts
The following ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for dealing effectively with the media are just a sample of the many media-savvy tips and tactics you’ll find in the Academy’s media training and public relations manuals. Download the manuals from the “Members Only” section.
To conduct an effective media interview, you should:
• Know why you are being asked for the interview.
• Get a sense of the reporter’s “angle” on the topic you’ll be discussing.
• Know the “Who, What, When, Where and Why” of your subject area.
• Identify the audience you will be reaching.
• Prepare up to three specific communications objectives or “key messages” that you want to convey to the audience.
• Have all the relevant facts, figures and references at hand.
• Begin with the most important facts.
• Be succinct.
• Identify yourself as an orthopaedic surgeon rather than “I” or “we.”
• Speak in consumer-friendly language, not medical jargon.
• Be specific; when possible, cite statistics rather than using generalities such as “lots of” and “many.”
• Use anecdotes and personal experiences to illustrate the topic.
• Question any unsupported statements or conjectures made by the interviewer.
• Practice turning negatives into positives by applying the principle of DAM (Defuse the negative statement; Answer the question; Make your points).
• When you aren’t sure how to respond, say “I don’t know.”
• Forget the interview starts with “Hello.”
• Forget the interview ends when the reporter is out of sight.
• Forget the person you are talking to is a reporter.
• Say anything that shouldn’t be repeated as a quote; “off the record” exists only in the movies.
• Give misleading information under any circumstances.
• Forget you represent the field of orthopaedics.
• Say “no comment”; you’ll sound like you have something to hide.
• Repeat any negative aspect of a reporter’s question in your response.
• Get hostile or argumentative.
• Allow the reporter to change the agreed-upon agenda.
• Feel compelled to answer a question just because a reporter asks it. Say, “I don’t have an answer to that question right now. Let me do some additional research and get back to you.”