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No. 69 – Preparing for News Media Interviews – 9

April 25, 2012


Radiation incidents, no matter how small, may attract the interest of the news media because “radiation” is always a topic of “concern” to the general public. When dealing with the news media, in whatever role you may play, you will more likely be heard if your focus is on “public concerns” or fears. The news media will not likely let you avoid issues of public concern anyway. Feelings and fears of radiation determine the newsworthiness of a radiation incident. Details of the incident may serve to heighten or reduce the fears. Unfortunately, during the early phases of an incident, details are often lacking and this adds to public fears and worries about the extent of the risks. Therefore, you should make every effort to respond to perceptions of risk to show that you are aware of feelings and fears and to show that you care.

To the extent that you are able to identify with the feelings, conflicts, and values of the public, you will be viewed as a competent and credible source of information on the incident. When you speak in the language of the public’s concerns, you have a better chance for effectively communicating a reasonable perspective on the incident.

A Guide to News Media Interviews

  1. Establish your goals in advance.
  2. Determine your five most important messages.
  3. Determine what the reporter wants.
  4. Identify the issues, conflicts, values, and stakeholders.
  5. List the five worst things the reporter could bring up.
  6. Practice your responses with a friend.
  7. Show that you care.
  8. Hear and reflect feelings and values.
  9. Respond to feelings before criticizing logic or solving problems.
  10. Demonstrate your competence.
  11. Give short crisp answers in the language of the audience.
  12. Frame your responses in partnership with the audience.
  13. Position for your most favorable social role.
  14. Put energy and feeling into your responses.
  15. Smile and pause before answering.
  16. Decide to be NON-defensive.
  17. Be natural, warm and friendly.
  18. For TV, provide options for action coverage.
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