Media Training

Got a Media Request? How the COFA Communications Department Can Help

As the College of Fine Arts evolves and strives to maintain a reputation of excellence and relevance in the higher education sphere, the communications department should play a key role in this evolution. By using our communication tools and resources, the communications department can support the positioning and key messages of the college to reach target audiences.

Media placements are one of the most effective ways to reach our audiences, and the communications department is available as a resource to faculty, administrators, staff, and students who may interact with the media.

If you get a media request, the communications department can help you prepare and make the most of your interview time to make sure your key messages are communicated. Below we share some best practices for responding to and fulfilling media requests.

Prepare for Your Interview

  • Contact your communications department reps. They can help you:
    • Anticipate reporter questions.
    • Offer insight to reporters’ styles and backgrounds.
    • Research reporters’ previous stories.
    • Help you prepare answers and practice saying them.
  • Write out your key message
    • If you or the article can make one point, what should it be?
  • Prepare answers for the toughest questions they could ask
  • Keep it simple
  • Frame the discussion, don’t get framed
  • Make it interesting: analogies, strong words, everyday examples
  • Put it in perspective: Why does this matter?
  • Practice

Conducting the Interview

  • Return calls or emails to reporters, even if you cannot talk to them
  • Find out who you’re talking to. What’s the format? Audience?
  • Ask upfront about their deadline, but you can then schedule a time to talk so you can prepare, if needed within that window.
  • Control the conversation: You are the expert
    • Use bridging – “Let me answer you by saying that…”
  • Answer first, explain second
  • Be brief
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat
  • Use “flags” to underscore important statements – “The bottom line is…”
  • Be passionate. Be yourself
  • Never guess: Offer to get back with numbers or facts if you are unsure
    • If the reporter asks for documents and you are unsure if you should provide them, please refer the reporter to your communications department contact.
  • Avoid jargon or technical terms
  • Don’t lose your temper or engage in an argument
  • Don’t speak “off the record,” and don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to see in print
  • Correct inaccurate statements if the reporter makes them.
  • Ask if the reporter needs clarification on anything
  • Offer to review their text, but expect them to say no thanks
  • Speak, don’t read, your talking points
  • Talk directly to the reporter
  • No matter the question, always start by making your most important point
  • Be brief
  • For on-camera interviews, wear dark colors or solids. Avoid white and patterns.

For Crises

  • Talk to your communications department representative immediately