Working with Reporters

Don't be worried or anxious about dealing with the media. The media relations team at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is here for you. Please take advantage of it. Our staff is more than happy to help prepare you for interviews. Our goal is to give you confidence when working with the media and to handle questions with comfort and control.

  • If you need help - ask. If you've received a call from a reporter and have any questions or concerns about how to respond, contact us at the Office of News and Communications, 308.865.8454
  • We prefer interviews be set up through our media relations office. When contacted by a reporter, we will check with you and arrange interview times based on your schedule and availability.
  • If a reporter contacts you directly, please let us know. Often, our staff will accompany you during interviews to make sure reporters receive all the information they need.
  • It's OK to ask what the reporter is looking for or the angle of the story. Before you begin, decide what two or three key points you want to get across. Be sure to make these points during the interview, even if the reporter doesn't ask about them.
  • Provide background information. You can help the reporter - and minimize errors - by offering to provide background information on complex topics.
  • If you agree to an interview, write down the reporter's name, media outlet and contact information. If you have any doubts about the reporter's identity, contact the Office of News and Communications
  • If a reporter calls and you are unprepared for an interview, ask to call back so you can gather your thoughts. However, reporters have tight deadlines. If you agree to be interviewed, you must respond quickly.
  • You represent UNK. It's important to be courteous and honest with members of the media. Don't be negative or outwardly annoyed with a reporter. Always stay positive. Cooperate with the media. Never get angry at a reporter, no matter what the question. Be under control and keep your composure.

Tips for Media Interviews

Be Yourself

Don't stiffen up. Be alert and positive. Relax, share your enjoyment and knowledge of the topic and don't be afraid to show your personality

Keep Calm

Don't let reporters start an argument with you. Don't be baited. Look and sound calm and controlled. It's important.

7-Second Rule

Give simple, direct answers. Make your point in 7 seconds or less. That's all you have before they edit you. Reporters likely will use short quotes, clips or sound bites. Elaborate if there's time, interest or need. Avoid jargon and explain the topic as simply as possible. Get comfortable with silence. One exception is radio interviews and appearances, which typically are more conversational.

Off the Record

Avoid saying things "off the record." Reporters may or may not honor this. Don't say anything you don't want to read in the newspaper or see on the evening news, even when the formal interview seems to have ended.

You're Always On

If you can see a microphone, camera or a reporter's notebook, assume your words and actions are being recorded. Don't say or do anything you don't want reported.

Volume & Clarity

Speak loud enough to be heard and speak clearly. Microphones can't make up for whispers. Regardless of the noise around you, don't yell into the mic. Speak at normal voice level. Avoid fillers such as "like", "um" and "ya know." Instead, pause briefly.

Eye Contact

Look the interviewer in the eye and hold eye contact. Avoid looking at the ground, sky or off in another direction.

In Front of the Camera

In a TV interview, look at the reporter and not the camera. If you're uncertain where to look, ask. Don't allow your eyes to dart from side to side and don't scan the room. It gives off a "ping-pong" effect with your head. Stand still and use comfortable gestures.

Tell the Truth

Don't inflate, don't exaggerate. Don't twist facts, don't make up numbers. Don't make unsubstantiated claims. Any decent journalist will be able to see right through this.

Never Say "No Comment"

If you're uncomfortable with a question, keep in mind it is not necessary to answer every question. However, saying "no comment" often is considered to be hostile and suggests you are trying to hide something. Instead acknowledge the question and explain why you can't answer. Don't hesitate to say, "I'd rather not comment on that right now." You can always refer reporters to the UNK media relations team.

Appearance

When possible, wear something with a UNK logo on it. For television interviews, plan to wear solid-color clothing. Stripes, plaids or other designs don't look good on TV. Avoid large, dangling or reflective jewelry.

Know Your Stuff

Don't speculate or talk about anything outside your area of expertise or known facts. It's OK to say " I don't know. I'll find out." Don't let a reporter put words in your mouth; correct inaccuracies before you answer any questions.

Take Your Time

When a question is asked, take a moment to collect your thoughts. There's no need to rush with an answer. If the question has multiple parts, break them down and answer each issue individually.

Correct Mistakes

If you feel after reflecting on an interview that you misspoke or gave incorrect information, call the reporter let them know. Similarly, you can call with additional information if you forgot to make an important point.