Frequently Asked Questions about Interacting with the Media
What should my overall strategy be with the media?
- Be cooperative and courteous
- Meet their deadlines
- Tell the truth
Why bother talking to the press?
- To communicate what we do effectively and accurately for an external audience.
- If you don’t tell your story, who will?
- Mainstream media can help us reach our patients, our peers, the public.
How do I ‘pitch’ my story?
- Sell your best stuff first.
- Use the “inverted pyramid” journalists do; say the most important thing at the beginning, then explain the rest after.
- Keep it simple.
- Use your soundbite. “Reduce the sauce” to its essence.
- Return to your message.
How can I think like a reporter?
- Reporters are interested in groundbreaking practices, major changes
in policy, anything truly new, “medical miracles.”
- Let the media relations people know when you think you have a story to pitch; let them pitch it.
- Use the 5 Ws and the H...
- Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How
- Be ready to answer those 6 questions, and you’re thinking like a reporter.
How do I prepare for an interview?
- Gather information.
- Anticipate and prepare for negatives, “worst questions.”
- Ask reporters what they need and when (deadline, statistics, patients)
- If you can’t give them what they want, find out what will satisfy their needs.
- Treat reporters with respect
What should I ask the reporter?
- What they know,
- Who they’ve already talked to,
- What they see as the story,
- When they will run it.
What is the best way to answer questions?
- Have a message — your single overriding communication objective (SOCO) - and remember it, use it when it fits.
- Stick to the information you want to give; don’t be sidetracked by their questions.
- Use conversational English; avoid jargon or medical terms only doctors understand.
- Think before you talk. Pauses are thoughtful, not negative.
Some DOs and DON’Ts:
- Fall for “Off the Record”
- Be drawn into argumentative baiting
- Answer hypothetical questions
- Repeat negative language
- Say “No Comment”
- Use medical jargon
- Sound mechanical or over-rehearsed
- Sound evasive
- Be defensive
- Answer questions you don’t fully understand
- Think like a reporter
- Stick to your key messages
- Develop and practice your messages out loud (or tape them)
- Practice coming across both credible and likeable
- Get information out quickly to avoid rumors/misinformation
- Correct misinformation promptly before it “sticks”
- Tell the truth
- Be consistent and cooperative
- Appear calm and responsive