Working with the Media … Don’t be Afraid!

Interview of Nancy Garberson, MOL by:  Christa A. Nelson, MBA

In today’s 24 hour news cycle, many are intimidated even afraid to work with the media. They are afraid of being misquoted or even having their story spun negatively. This is a valid concern as reputation management is so essential to the corporate identity.

Never fear, MCS is here. Our media experts have extensive experience working with and for the media. Our founder, Nancy Garberson, graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Iowa and formerly worked as a radio and TV reporter. She has nearly 3 decades of experience navigating the waters and has agreed to share a lifeline with you.

What is the most important thing to keep in mind when dealing with the media?

  • Reporters are always on deadline so return their call quickly.
  • Be sure and get all the details the reporter is seeking – so you can gather the information effectively.

What is your favorite tips to share?

  • Be nice to all reporters – if not it could come back to haunt you.
  • Take time to prepare your information, you do not have to do an interview on-the-spot.

How do you avoid media pitfalls?

  • If a reporter ambushes you in a parking lot – ask if you can schedule the interview when you’ve had time to prepare (and take a deep breath).
  • Try to anticipate questions the reporter might ask so your responses are ready.
  • Have information available if the reporter needs detailed data.
  • Ask if you are being recorded if the interview is on the telephone.

What tips do you have for during the interview?

  • If you are doing a video interview – make sure your hair is combed and you don’t have food in your teeth.
  • Stay away from tech-talk, legalese or industry-speak, the audience won’t understand.
  • Most sound bites are 7 seconds so explain your answers in less than 21 words.
  • Look at the reporter, not the camera – it’s spooky when you do.
  • Try to relax when you speak.
  • Don’t wear black or brown – it looks like mud on TV – light blue is perfect (solid colors please)!
  • Don’t ramble. Stay on track. Use complete thoughts.
  • If you do not understand a question, ask for clarification.
  • Don’t wiggle or spin your chair if you are seated.
  • Hold your calls. Turn your cell phone off.

What is the golden rule when dealing with the media?

  • Never say, “no comment.”
  • You can always say, “I don’t know” – if that is the truth.
  • Be honest!

What questions do you have for our resident media experts? We would love to help, stop by the office or give us a call.

Founder, Marketing & Communication Strategies, Inc.