The University Relations – Communications team provides training for WVU experts who may be contacted by media for an interview. Sessions include information about WVU protocol, collaborating with the WVU Medicine media team and messaging. Attendees may also have the opportunity to participate in a mock on-camera interview, complete with the tough questions that a savvy reporter might ask. To schedule a media training session, contact your communicator.
Media Interview Tips #
- Reporters and members of the media are interested in what you have to say about the topic on which you are being interviewed. Their job is to report on and write about the facts, and hearing your expert opinion enhances their story. Generally, reporters and media members are not intentionally difficult and strive to represent information factually.
- In most cases, you will not have the opportunity to edit or view in advance a media story.
- Explain your role/position/title and provide the spelling of your first and last name.
- TV soundbites and print quotes are typically more brief than interviewees prefer.
- Answers to specific questions should be concise.
- Use common language.
- Remember the audience of the media outlet. In many cases, unless it’s a trade publication, those reading, listening or watching may not understand technical and medical terms specific to the topic you’re discussing.
- Instead of responding “no comment,” consider instead:
- (That topic) is not something I’m familiar enough with at this moment to discuss in depth.
- Interesting question, but my experience is in… (use this to redirect the interview to the original topic).
- I would be happy to follow up with you on that when I have the information in front of me.
- If you’ve finished a thought, stop and await another question.
- Filling uncomfortable silence sometimes leads to misspeaking and stumbling.
- Let the reporter craft another question.
- Be prepared with a final thought in mind. Often, reporters will ask you if there’s anything you’d like to add at the end of an interview. Responses to consider include:
- Use that time to clarify something you’ve said if you have concern.
- Use that time to bring up a point that wasn’t asked.
- Use that time to highlight your department/school/research – whatever may relate to the topic.
- As the interview wraps up, include in your thanks:
- Ask when and how you might be able to see the final product (article or video).
- Ask for the reporter’s contact information. You may need to contact them to correct something, send a thank you note or pitch another story idea.
- You can work with the appropriate WVU communications professional for follow-up.