Talking to Journalists

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If you've managed to land interest in your story or an action your centre is taking, here are some tips to follow when you are contacted by a media outlet. Making sure you interact with journalists effectively can a garner a great deal of positive attention toward your cause.

Go local.

Your best bet is to pitch your to release to your local media. They're more likely to express interest than national media outlets. 

Know what you want to say.

You should have only 2 or 3 points in mind that you’d like to make. Rehearse them, a lot. Make sure to get them in your answers, e.g. Early educators are paid 30% less than educators from other sectors. Research shows that this stage of a child’s education strongly correlates with future outcomes. It is just as crucial as education in later life.

Clarify how you will be interviewed.

If someone calls for a TV or radio interview, make sure to clarify if it will be live or taped, and what the journalist or interviewer expects of you.

Often print/web journalists will ask to record the interview. Generally speaking, this is a good way to ensure that the journalist quotes you accurately. However, if the journalist does not broach the subject first, you should ask whether it will be recorded. When an interview is being recorded, be careful not to say anything off the cuff that you wouldn't like to be broadcast publicly. 

Be succinct.

The journalist is interested in what your issue is and what you want done about it. e.g. “Early educators need the government to fund equal pay.”

Think before you speak.

Always assume that you are on the record and everything you say is going to be quoted. If that makes you speak slowly and deliberatively, all the better—it will give the journalist time to take notes and get clarification.

We all get things wrong.

If you misspeak, let the journalist know they you have done so. They are usually open to you correcting what you would like to say.

Reply promptly.

As mentioned above, never leave journalists hanging. Always be organised in order to return phone calls and answer any questions promptly and clearly. If you don’t, they may not be inclined to call you again.

Article adapted from Electronic Frontier Alliance: Media Tips for Activists, which is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License 3.0.