February 17, 2018

Media Relations, Part Deux

Feeling comfortable before a microphone, camera or note-taking blogger can be unnerving, especially for staff who don’t do it everyday. And yet, we want to be sure our staff are positioned as experts in our community and are called on for interviews. What to do?

Larger and well financed intitutions conduct media training. That can be challenging for libraries to pull off. Most people feel more comfortable with something in writing, so we provide our staff with a tip sheet prior to the interview and then do a little bit of coaching. I’m happy to share here what we use, and hope you can make use of it.

Media Tip Sheet

·         Before you meet with a print OR electronic media representative look at yourself in the mirror. (And yes, you do want to ‘look good’ for the radio.) There should be no food stuck in your front teeth. Have a buddy check you over. 


·         Know what you want to say before you interview. Write out no more than five talking points. The exercise of writing them out will help keep the points fresh in your mind.


·         Stay “on message.” For television and radio, no matter the question, always finish your answer by making a point from your talking points. Even if the question is unrelated to your point, transition your answer in a way that allows you to get your point across. No matter how many times a question is asked, smile, nod and keep coming back to your point(s). Make it very difficult for the folks in the editing room to cut out the point you want to make. Still, keep your answer to any one question relatively short (20 seconds or less); don’t ramble.


·         Even for radio interviews, smile when you speak. Pleasant, happy sounding people are considered more trustworthy.


·         If you are on camera, don’t touch your face.


·         Never say anything around a reporter that you wouldn’t want to be the newspaper headline or the lead on the 6 o’clock news. Until the reporter and cameraperson are driving away, always assume you are on the record.

·         NEVER lie. But defend your point with calm, confident prejudice.


·         If you lose your train of thought during a recorded TV or radio interview, ask if you can start over. They’ll usually allow a “take 2” or even “take 3.”


·         Relax. You ARE an expert on the issue you are discussing or you would not be selected for the interview.  Smile. Take a deep breath. You will do great!

Alison Circle About Alison Circle

Alison Circle is director of marketing communications for Columbus Metropolitan Library. Previously she was an Account Director at Jack Morton Worldwide, a global branding agency, and her primary client was Target Stores. Prior to that she was the National Marketing Director for Minnesota Public Radio and "A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keillor." She has advanced degrees in English and Fine Arts, and is a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant.