Tips for Dealing with the Media
There may be a time in your credit union career where you have to deal with media. Here are a few tips to make everything go well:
- Designate a media spokesperson. Ideally one person, no more than two (board president, credit union manager). If two, they should say the same things to the media.
- If you have a contact or relationship with a reporter, offer to talk to her first.
- Pitch a story to the media (your contact) as an update to what credit unions are doing; give local twist by talking specifics about your credit union.
- Call-in/talk show opportunities.
- Be ready for the call. Always be ready to answer any questions from the media.
- Respond to deadline. If you get a call from a reporter, respond as quickly as possible. They are always under a deadline and often wait until the last minute to request information or an interview.
- Send information in advance. If a reporter or talk show host bites at your pitch, be sure to send him any necessary or requested information in advance of the interview.
Handling an Interview
- Develop talking points in a logical order to help organize your thoughts.
- Don’t read from your talking points or script. Be rehearsed enough to talk in a conversational manner.
- Enunciate. Speak clearly and concisely.
- Offer background information. At this stage of the game most reporters will not need this, but because reporters change frequently, you may come across one that needs information.
- Anticipate questions/role play. Think like the consumer because that is the point of reference for most of the reporters. If you are not completely comfortable with the interview situation, be sure to practice.
- Be open and honest. Don’t talk around questions, answer as directly and honestly as possible. This does not mean that you should be technical (about computer operations), because your audience (the media) will lose interest and you will get no (or worse, unfavorable) coverage.
- Be convincing. Again, be rehearsed so as not to waver and sound unsure.
- If you don’t know, get the answer and get back quickly. Again, be honest. If you do not know the answer to a question, admit to not knowing and offer to get that information immediately following the interview.
- Good quotes make good stories. Be short and concise, give local quotes (these are the best).
- Stay on the record. And never say anything that you do not want on the record. It is hard for reporters to ignore what is written on their notepad when writing their story.
- Know when to stop. Don’t ramble; your thoughts will no longer be in logical order, and may be conceived as not a credible source of information.
- Appearance really counts. How you look and sound are crucial.
- If you look like you have been up all night or have a bad cold, consider sending someone else.
- A plain white shirt washes you out and makes you look sick on TV. Wear a blazer over your shirt.
- Oh yeah, Make sure there is nothing stuck in your teeth!