"The media? Nah!" you think, "Why would anyone from the media
contact me?" Perhaps you've been working on cutting edge research and have
just made a major break through. A local newspaper or the public relations
office at your university calls. What do you tell them? If you're considering a
career as a professor, you'll have plenty of opportunities to interact with the
media -- more than you might imagine!
For example, when local newspapers or talk radio stations plan segments on
science, policy, education, and other disciplines, they often seek advice
and sound bites from experts. How do you handle such calls? Here are some tips:
- Understand your role. What does the reporter or producer want from an expert?
Expertise! Your role as expert is to discuss the research literature pertaining
to a specific topic. Try to do a little research before your interview to
- Speak concisely and minimize the jargon. Know what you want to communicate
about an issue beforehand so that you keep your comments short and
straightforward. Minimize professional jargon by pretending that you're speaking
to a friend outside of your discipline.
- Understand what's needed. Ask questions to become fully aware of what you're
getting into. Is the interview live or on tape? How long is the interview? Are
there other guests? Will listeners call in?
- Make you case and restate it. At the end of the interview, reporters will
often ask if there's anything else you'd like to tell them. Use this opportunity
to drive your message home, even if you're repeating what you've already said.
What should the audience take away from your interview? Redundancy leads to more
accurate reporting and more informed audiences.