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Pieter’s Media Survival Kit

As journalism and broadcast professional spokesperson for five organisations, Pieter advises and coaches many clients on media interaction and interview skills. He compiled the Media Survival Kit on the do’s and don’ts of media interviews.
  • You are the expert – It’s part of your job, not a burden
  • An interview enables you to talk to thousands, even millions.
  • How long will this take you otherwise?
  • You are shaping the image of your organization
Radio, Television
  • What is the topic? Who is the audience?
  • When? Where? How long?
  • give “off the record” comment
  • Is it live or recorded?
  • Which programme? Who is the presenter/host?
  • Who else is participating?
  • Is this a telephonic or studio interview?
  • Is this a phone-in, are you opening lines?
  • What is the angle of the programme?
  • Get all contact details – studio, producer
  • Accept short deadlines, notice
  • Learn the art of the “sound byte” (telling your story in a short elevator ride)
  • Avoid technical jargon and buzzwords. Keep it short and simple
  • Stay calm, focus and stay on message
  • Stay informed, be available
  • Answer the direct question first, then elaborate if necessary
  • Talk to the presenter, not the listeners (except in a relaxed interview)
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Do not...
  • Attack “the media”, “journalists”, or this journalist
  • Guess or speculate
  • Give “off the record” comment
  • Panic
  • Complicate
  • Threaten
  • Be arrogant
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  • Respond quickly, be available
  • Know your facts and stick to them
  • Use clear and simple language
  • Stick to your area of responsibility and expertise
  • Be courteous, professional. Do NOT get angry
  • Clarify the deadline, angle of the story
  • Keep commitments, meet deadlines
  • Offer to review a draft, but the journalist is not obliged to supply it
  • Correct factual errors only if the draft is sent to you – not the tone or style
  • If the topic is controversial or technical, respond by email
  • Apologies, sincerity are in order
  • In a crisis, stick to one spokesperson – tell the truth, tell it all, tell it fast
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