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What to do when the media calls

By Jason Mudd

Be prepared for when the media contacts you.Too often companies discount the value of media coverage. Some get anxiety, others are too busy, but most don't know what to do. The media has a responsibility to cover business news and industry trends. Your organization has a critical role in this process. With a prompt and strategic response, your business can leverage opportunities for media coverage. These tips will help you manage calls from the media. 


  • Identify your primary media contacts and authorized spokespersons. Train your staff on such policy.


  • Respond to media calls immediately. This is your chance to build a positive relationship with the reporter. It may be your only opportunity.


  • Ask about the reporter's deadline, media organization, assignment and angle. You'll want to know their approach, audience and urgency. Then you can prepare key messages, spokesperson(s) and response time. 


  • Know what's significant and set the agenda. You are the expert. List the three points that this reporter and the audience should know about your organization and this topic. Have the list in your mind or place it in front of you.


  • Speak in sound bytes. Even for print publication, make clear and concise statements. Avoid jargon and explain technical information. Otherwise, your quote will be edited and perhaps taken out of context.


  • Always give truthful answers. Stay positive and address issues head-on. Set the record straight. When appropriate, admit guilt and offering real solutions. Don't dodge a question, you'll look like an ostrich with your head in the sand and only showing your rear.


  • Never guess. Say, "I don't know the answer to that question, but I will look into it and respond by 5 p.m."


  • Accommodate. Journalists are busy managing lots of information, multiple assignments and deadlines. The more helpful you can be, the easier it is for them to do a good job and give fair coverage. Offer any existing photographs, video footage, background information and research.


  • Be proactive. Offer a 24 hour phone number that the reporter can use for additional questions and fact confirmation.


  • Follow-up. If you left out important details or there may be an error, contact the reporter immediately.


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Clients love Jason’s passion, candor, and commitment as well as the team he has formed at Axia Public Relations. He’s advised some of America’s most admired brands, including American Airlines, Dave & Buster’s, Hilton, HP, Pizza Hut, and Verizon. He is an Emmy Award-winning, accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author, and entrepreneur and earned his certification in inbound marketing. He founded the PR firm in July 2002.

Topics: media relations

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