When an employee receives a media referral to serve as a source of college information, the following basic media rules should be followed:
1. Return the reporter’s call.
2. Respond in a timely manner. Many newspaper and TV reporters operate on a tight deadline so plan to return the call within one hour of receiving the referral. Calling a newspaper reporter back today or tomorrow may mean the difference between an article appearing or not appearing in the newspaper or on TV.
3. Know the facts. Be prepared. If it is necessary to look up information, take the reporter’s name and telephone number and call back. If the answer to a question is not known, say so. “I don’t have the answer to that question. Allow me to call you back with that information.” Either call the reporter back once you’ve found the information or refer the reporter to Institutional Advancement for further assistance.
4. Stick to the facts, not opinions or speculation. Never mislead the facts. Don’t exaggerate.
5. If a touchy question is asked, don’t worry. Answer in your own time. It is not necessary to answer everything, and don’t be defensive about it.
6. Never say “No comment.” Give the reporter the reason you cannot comment. “I don’t have all the facts in order to comment accurately on this situation.”
7. Be polite and courteous.
8. If a reporter conducts the interview on campus, the meeting should take place in a private area. If the interview is to occur in one’s office, hold telephone calls and other distractions.
9. Never go off the record. Nothing is off the record when talking to the media. It may appear in the next day’s paper. No matter how warmhearted the reporter, always remember that an interview with a reporter is not a private conversation.
10. Reporters often use silence to get you to say something. When they get quiet, stay quiet as well. Simply behave as though the reporter is getting his or her thoughts together for the next question.
11. Avoid jargon.
12. Do not ask a reporter to see or hear his or her story before it is published.
13. Don’t ask when the article will appear in the newspaper. Many times, the reporter does not know because that is determined by an editor.
14. Do not give reporters college documents. These must be requested through the Freedom of Information Act compliance officer, the Director of Human Resources, ext. 2021.
15. Never release an employee’s home phone or fax numbers, e-mail address or street address.
16. Never release student class schedules, telephone numbers or addresses.
17. All questions about members of the Board of Trustees should be referred to the Office of the President, including requests for telephone numbers and addresses.