Media Training Resources

The Interview Process

1. Be prepared: Gather your thoughts before the interview and anticipate issues

2. Develop your message:

  • Decide your position on the issues
  • Decide on three main talking points
  • Develop a "bottom line" quote
  • Determine potential questions and your response

3. Be clear, concise and honest

  • Don't lie or ramble
  • Speak in sound bites or paragraphs
  • Avoid acronyms and jargon
  • If you don't know, say so

4. Forget "no comment." Use transitions instead

  • Don't look like you've got something to hide
  • Explain why you can't answer
  • Use transition phrases to steer toward your talking points
  • Refer the reporter to someone who can answer the question

5. Stay away from "off the record"

  • Statements are always subject to being quoted
  • Always assume any conversation with a reporter, photographer or sound technician will appear in print or on the air

6. Support your message

  • Use supporting materials
  • Statistics, quotes and visuals help illustrate your point

7. Listen to the questions

  • Don't repeat negative language---use transitions
  • Rephrase unclear questions before answering
  • Take a moment to compose your answer

8. Cooperate with the journalist

  • Don't argue; ask how you can cooperate
  • Be available for additional questions
  • Let the reporter know where you can be reached for follow-up questions

Preparing for Television Interviews

If possible, do your interview against a "visual" background. Television relies on strong visuals. A backdrop of books, a courtroom setting, or scales of justice can all help visually tell a story.

It may be helpful to keep powder on hand for shine and a jacket for impromptu interviews.

Be focused and enthusiastic. Open the interview with a brief summary of your key point, and express your point of view enthusiastically. A 30-second television news interview is considered lengthy, but it hardly leaves time for in-depth explanations.

Never assume the recorder is turned off. Anytime a camera is near, consider yourself "on stage" and act and speak accordingly.

Look at the reporter and talk to the audience. Do not look at the camera, but rather speak to and look directly at the reporter. Be aware of your body language and non-verbal skills. Do not nod unless you agree with what the reporter is saying. This will be communicated on camera! And remember to address your remarks with the viewer in mind.

Dress conservatively. Blue or gray suits are good choices. Avoid shiny jewelry or loud-patterned clothing. If possible, stay away from sunglasses.

Know the program. If possible, watch a few broadcasts of the program or newscast before your interview. Or ask the Communications Office about the program. Observe the style of the interviewers, anchors, and reporters. Get a sense for how much time the interviewee has to answer questions. Remember that the safest medium is live television or radio because the answers are not edited.

Relax. Although you are not a television professional, and might have butterflies and sweaty palms, remember that you have something newsworthy to say.

We would love to hear from you with questions or feedback. Please contact the Office of Communications at 727-562-7381 or [email protected].

Writing and Placing Your Op-Ed

As a professor at Stetson Law, you are already an established legal expert. Have you considered writing an opinion editorial article for a newspaper or magazine? Your op-ed can open up new discussion, move public policy and help Stetson Law gain national recognition. It will also lead to future contacts with the editorial editors. By investing the time to write a carefully crafted 750-word piece, you may enjoy recognition in the nation's top newspapers.

» Read the Writing and Placing Your Op-Ed Guide (PDF)