Publicize Your Event
How to Respond to Media Inquiries
There are two parts to this approach:
- Always respond as soon as possible to the media request. Reporters work on tight deadlines and, with the advent of 24-7 online news, many deadlines within a day. Responding doesn't mean giving them the interview or the answers to their questions right away; it means that you are
a) acknowledging their inquiry,
b) cognizant of their deadline, and
c) committed to putting them in touch with the right source as quickly as possible.
- Always contact Marketing & Communication — typically Emily Christensen — when you receive a media inquiry. There are lots of reasons for this.
- You might not be the correct or only source involved in the story.
- Lack of coordination is typically the reason institutions end up seeing incorrect or incomplete information reported in the media.
- Our office is the clearinghouse for all media traffic, and we need to track what stories about Wartburg are likely to appear so we can protect the institution's reputation.
- If the subject is a benign one, it is OK to let us know after the fact.
- If it is a complex issue — such as a safety or security incident, or a controversial policy, or something involving law enforcement or legal matters, or personnel-related — those inquiries should be directed to our office so we can coordinate an institutional response.
- We can provide media prep and even role play with likely questions so you can feel more comfortable in your media interview.
Transparency is incredibly important in this age, especially if we want to maintain credibility with the media. This is ever more important as we rely more on "earned" media to help in our marketing and communications plans. Additionally, the 24-7, instant availability of information and information dissemination means that it is on our best interest to share all that we can as early as we can so we don't have to spend out time doing "damage control. "We don't want to gag anyone. We only want to ensure that reports and responses are accurate, complete and consistent.
Additionally, I would offer these tips on what to do if the media calls and you agree to an interview:
- Know what you want to say. Write down some talking points ahead of time. This will keep you from getting sidetracked.
- Remember: nothing is “off-the-record.”
- If you don't know an answer, say so. NEVER fake an answer.
- Give us a call. If you still have questions or concerns, we can help you prepare.