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Media Training Guide

At times, faculty members may be contacted by members of the media to discuss research, teaching or professional expertise. You are encouraged to respond to such requests. When working with members of the media, it's important to remember a few pointers.

1. Be prepared and plan the main points you wish to make. 

Before an interview, a reporter will tell you the topic they want to cover. If they don't, it's okay for you to ask what information they will need so you can prepare. It's also perfectly legitimate to postpone the interview a few hours so that you can be better prepared. However, remember that reporters are often under tight deadlines. Select a few key points you wish to make and think about how to explain them as clearly as possible. 

2. Always be honest. 

When dealing with negative press especially, never knowingly tell an untruth or exaggerate. Trust is a critical component to developing a positive and enduring relationship with the media. 

3. Explain your work clearly and avoid professional jargon. 

Speaking in plain English and limiting jargon will help ensure the information you provide is well received and limits the opportunity for error and distortion. If you must use acronyms or unfamiliar terms, explain them. 

4. Remember you are speaking to the public when you are talking to a reporter.

Think of what the public would be interested in knowing. Help the reporter, and thus the public, understand the value of your work. 

5. Avoid using the phrase "no comment."

If you are unable to comment, give the honest answer. Using the phrase "no comment" give the impression that there is something to hide. 

6. Be prompt, helpful and courteous. 

Reporters are often under tight deadlines and need a response quickly. Timeliness to such requests fosters a relationship that is beneficial to both parties. Never argue. Rather be persuasive but not confrontational. The impression you give during your contact will likely influence how they cover the story and future stories. If you are unable or unwilling to respond to a request, forward the media inquiry to another knowledgeable source. 

7. Keep it brief. 

Explain your points clearly, but keep in mind that space in a newspaper or other media outlets is limited. 

8. Always assume everything you say is "on the record."

If you don't think it should be published, don't say it. This doesn't mean that you need to be overly serious and colorless, just don't assume you can say something and then take it back. 

9. Make sure what you are saying is accurate. 

Don't speculate. Stick to your area of expertise. If you don't know the details, either connect the media with someone who does or ask to get back to them after you have gathered the accurate information. 

10. Remember you are representing the university and the College of Engineering. 

If you think what you are saying may reflect negatively on the university or the college, don't say it. Personal opinions should be clearly and carefully identified as such. 

11. Contact College of Engineering Communications/Marketing

Let the us know if you've been contacted by the media. It's important that the college is made aware of any inquiries so that there is a coordinated and consistent college response. Contact matthew.jensen@usu.edu or call 435-797-8170.