News When A Reporter Calls

  • Obtain the reporter's name and media affiliation and ask how you can help him or her.
  • Unprepared? Tell the reporter you will call back in about 15 minutes or ask the reporter what his or her deadline is and tell the reporter you will call back before the deadline. Then call back!
  • Respect reporters' deadlines. Return phone calls promptly. In many cases, reporters need a response in minutes, not hours or days.
  • If a reporter leaves a message for you to call and you are not comfortable doing so, contact the public relations office and we will find out what information the reporter is seeking.
  • Mention Hilbert in your remarks, and ask the reporter to properly identify your affiliation with the college.
  • Avoid "no comment" answers. This suggests you are trying to hide something or evading the question. Instead, explain why you cannot discuss the matter.
  • Don't expect a reporter to show you a story before publication. It conflicts with journalistic ethics and professionalism. If you fear a point has not been understood, ask the reporter to repeat it. Encourage a follow-up phone call if needed for further clarification.
  • Avoid jargon. Explain what you mean briefly and in simple language, keeping in mind that reporters look for colorful, lively quotes. And speak slowly in short, concise sentences. Remember, you are speaking to the public through the reporter.
  • Be aware that radio reporters may ask to tape an interview over the phone.
  • Don't assume a statement is "off the record" just because you say it is. The best practice is not to make comments off the record. If you don't want a statement quoted, don't make it.
  • If you are aware of a situation or incident that will reflect poorly on Hilbert if reported in the media, call the public relations office. Do not volunteer this information to the media.
  • Have a message. It's best to have one or two points you want to make. This is especially effective for broadcast. No matter how the tape is edited, you will have made your point.
  • Be brief. Newspaper reporters can take more time in their interviews and present more information than can TV and radio reporters.
  • Above all, be honest. If you don't know the answer, say so.