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7 steps in dealing with the media

Technology has brought massive changes to the way news is delivered today. News comes into our homes literally as it happens.

This brings many challenges, especially for the public sector and businesses that may come into contact with the media for one reason or another. Perhaps it might be a contentious issue, or maybe it is a human-interest matter. Most people are not born media savvy, but by following a few simple tips, dealing with journalists and other media need not be a daunting experience..

1. If you are contacted by a journalist to make comment on something, ensure you get their name, media outlet, telephone number and email address.

2. Don’t feel pressured that you have to answer their questions there and then. Most interviews are conducted over the telephone, but you may prefer to ask the journalist to come and see you face to face. Remember though, that this may not be possible if the journalist is in another state or country.
3. If you want time to think about what the journalist wants to talk about, do not hesitate to ask them to give you some time to think about it and then have them call back. Sometimes journalists may be limited by deadlines, but this is not your problem.

4. It is a good idea to ask the journalist to email you an overview of the story they are writing and the sorts of questions they would like to ask you. Remember that these may not be the only questions they are likely to ask you.

5. If you decide to go ahead with the interview, check whether the journalist is taping you or taking notes. By law they must declare if they are taping any telephone conversation.

6. At the end of the interview, ask the journalist to go over the discussion and clarify any quotes they plan to use. It is unlikely that they will agree to show you a draft, but you are well within your rights to ask for quotes to be checked with you. You might consider making this a condition of the interview.

7. You might be asked to participate in a photo shoot. Consider this carefully, especially if there are children involved.

With all this in mind, dealing with the media can be rewarding and useful for businesspeople and organisations. A good journalist should always be trusted to respect your wishes and report with honesty and balance.
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