If you are being interviewed
Before the interview
- If a reporter contacts you, write down their name and news organization and ask what the topic will be and what questions the reporter will ask.
- Remember it is acceptable to decline an interview. It is best not to stonewall or use the words “no comment,” as these usually make reporters think there is something to hide. If someone else is a more knowledgeable or appropriate source, a faculty member may refer the reporter to that person.
- If caught off guard, say that it is inconvenient to talk right now and ask for the reporter’s number to return the call shortly. Contact Com-Mar to discuss the best strategy or for guidance.
- If the reporter and story seem legitimate, be helpful, frank and quick to respond to the request for an interview. A slow response allows what other interviewees say to shape the story in the reporter’s mind.
During the interview
- Assume everything said will be quoted, even if said in casual conversation or when the interview appears over.
- Give simple answers that cannot be misinterpreted. For guidance, feel free to contact Com-Mar.
- Have a few central points to make clearly: One is best, three is maximum. One good approach is to say, “The two things everyone should understand are: One…”
- Remember that most audiences do not comprehend the diversity of views within a university; they perceive the institution, not the individual, speaking. Therefore it is best to avoid personal opinions when speaking for your colleagues, department or college. When giving opinions, particularly when discussing institutional issues or those involving controversy, it is best to make clear that you speak only for yourself.
- Speak to the reporter’s audience, not just to the reporter, and explain what the information means to the public.
- Keep statements clear and concise, providing plain-language interpretations and metaphors. If you do not do it, the reporter may.
- Reference “Goshen College” directly in your response multiple times, versus inferring it.
- Do not let reporters lead you into saying something you do not wish to say. Some will try to feed you lines (“So, in other words, you are saying…”). If those words do not fairly capture what you said, correct the reporter. It is best not to repeat loaded words or phrases, even to deny the assertion, and better to avoid hypothetical questions.
- After the interview, contact Com-Mar know to discuss the interview, apprise the news staff of any surprising issues, or clarify any remaining questions.