Working with the Media
The Arizona Health Sciences Center Office of Public Affairs works closely with reporters representing media of all kinds, responding to their inquiries with information for stories about activities and events at AHSC. Generally, the media serves an integral role in telling AHSC's stories to the general public. In many instances, our office contacts faculty and/or staff members who can supply appropriate information to the reporter. Many times, reporters contact individuals directly, without the knowledge of this office.
If a reporter calls you, please:
- Make note of his/her name, phone number, media affiliation, what the story is about and what information you are asked to provide.
- If you are uncomfortable for any reason about returning a reporter's call or answering a reporter's questions, contact the Office of Public Affairs for assistance, 520-626-7301. We also request that you let the Office of Public Affairs know when you speak to a reporter, so we can be on the lookout for the story.
- Respond as soon as possible; reporters usually are working on a deadline. If an immediate response is not practical, or you want time to collect your thoughts, offer to call back at a specific time and be sure to follow through.
- If you are scheduled for an interview, anticipate the reporter's questions and think through the points you want to make in advance.
- Whenever possible, have printed materials to support your information and help avoid errors in the story.
During an interview
- Remember that in most cases the audience is the general public: speak briefly and plainly, avoiding academic or technical terms.
- Speak in complete thoughts; if a reporter's questions are edited out, your response should stand on its own.
- If a reporter asks a question based on information you believe is incorrect, do not hesitate to correct and offer background information.
- If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification. If you do not have an answer, say so and, if possible, tell the reporter where the information can be found.
- Avoid responding with "no comment." If you cannot, or choose not, to answer, offer a brief explanation; i.e., "I cannot discuss that because it is a personnel matter," or "I can't answer that because I haven't seen the information you are referring to."
- Avoid saying anything "off the record"; your interviewer may not honor that.
- Be honest. Rather than concealing negative information, tell the interviewer what steps are being taken to solve a problem.
Tips on Broadcast Media
- For television interviews, wear solid-color clothing; blue is a good choice. Avoid showy jewelry as it may be distracting.
- Before going on camera, check your hair, collar and makeup in a mirror.
- If the reporter comes to you, choose a quiet location, free of hallway noises and background hums. If in your office, hold calls and turn off cell phones, pagers and your computer.
- Ask in advance if the interview is edited or "live." If "live," prepare your thoughts ahead so you are comfortable thinking on your feet.
- In edited interviews, pause briefly before answering the questions. This allows you to think out your answer and gives the reporter a "clean" sound bite. If you don't like the way you have worded an answer, you can stop and start over.
- In most TV interviews, look at the reporter, not the camera. The exception is satellite interviews, when the interviewer may not be on location. If you are unsure where to look, ask.
- When in front of radio or TV microphones, choose a stationary chair – one that doesn't rock or spin – and stay in place to ensure that recording volume is consistent throughout the interview.
- Avoid distracting habits such as pen tapping.
After the Interview
- Ask the reporter to identify you as being affiliated with the University of Arizona.
- You may want to ask when the story will appear.
- If you think that you might have misspoken, call the reporter as soon as possible and let him or her know. You also can call with additional information if you forgot to make an important point.
- After the story appears, give the reporter any positive feedback; it will be appreciated.
- If there is an error in the story, let the reporter know so a correction might be printed or aired, and to prevent incorrect information from being used as background for future stories.