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FSU Media Tips for Faculty and Staff

Working with the News Media
Tips for Faculty and Staff

FSU Media Policy (Approved by the Chancellor):

Fayetteville State University encourages members of its administration, faculty, and staff to speak with media representatives, particularly in instances when they can provide scholarly opinion on a topic within their areas of expertise. If a member of the media requests a response to a matter that may be deemed public record and the university employee feels uncomfortable answering the question, s/he may then direct the media representative to the Office of Public Relations at (910) 672-1474.

If contacted by the media and you can provide scholarly opinion on a topic, the following tips may assist you: 

  • Identify the reporter. Write down the reporter’s name, media outlet and contact information.
  • Don’t feel rushed. If a reporter calls unexpectedly, ask to call back so you can gather your thoughts. You must respond quickly; ask how soon the reporter needs to speak with you.
  • Decide what you want to say. Before you begin, decide what two or three key points you want to make. Have an interesting fact ready to illustrate each point. Try to bring up these points 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. This can include material from other sources.
  • Prepare for difficult questions. Anticipate difficult questions and prepare responses to them. Never say “no comment.” Instead, explain why you can’t or won’t answer the question; for example, not my area of expertise, a personnel matter and cannot discuss, a matter protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws that protect student privacy, etc. Then, shift to a topic you are willing to discuss.
  • Give simple, direct answers. Be brief. Reporters use short quotes or sound bites. Avoid jargon and flippant or joking comments that may be taken out of context.
  • Nothing is “off the record.” Don’t say anything you don’t want in the story, even when the normal interview has ended and you seem to be just chatting.
  • Ask questions. Reporters are unlikely to let you review a story, but they may let you verify specific information or quotes.
  • Give feedback. If a reporter makes a major mistake, ask for a correction. If the mistake is minor, it may be better to let it go. Let reporters know if their stories are well done, too.

Final Note: As a general practice, reporters do not need to contact the Office of Public Relations before calling you. They do, however, want to identify the best possible individual who can help with their story. Thus, they normally contact public relations first in an attempt to identify the faculty/staff member who can best contribute to their story. 

What’s News? What’s Not?

What is news?
• An explanation that frames the world in a new way
• Research challenging old assumptions
• Trends, social issues, and current events
• Stories about real people

What (usually) isn’t news?
• Individual grants and fellowships
• Conferences
• Books
• New programs, centers, institutes, etc.
• Building dedications
• Most academic honors and awards

For the above, many newspapers now have outlets to “mention” items that would not normally warrant a story. Continue to send the information to the public relations department and we will gladly share it with the media.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Public Relations at (910) 672-1474.

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