You don’t have to speak to the media.
It’s not the law.
No one’s holding your head in a bucket of water until you say yes.
But sometimes it might help.
And sometimes it is good to have the opportunity to put your point of view. Because, guess what, if you don’t do it no one else will.
But that still doesn’t mean you have to speak to a journalist just because they call you up, DM you on Twitter or send an email.
At CoComms, we have devised a sure fire ready reckoner for sussing out whether it’s a good idea to get embroiled with the media.
It’s based around a simple acronym: ASK. Reporters love asking questions…using our method, it’s a reminder that it’s you who asks the first questions – and not the reporter.
1. The ‘A’ stands for ‘assess’ the opportunity: what precisely are we being asked to do? Who is calling? Where are they from? Is it print, online or broadcast? Is it the general press or a specialist publication?
In other words, ‘WIIFM’ – what’s in it for me?
Are we being asked to bring a modicum of authority and insight to the situation? Have we done something wrong that we need to mitigate? What actually happens if I say no?!
All these scenarios need to be run through before you decide to agree.
2. The ‘S’ stands for the ‘sequence’ of events; in other words, how exactly is this interview/exchange/conversation going to take place?
If it’s print, will it be on the phone – or face to face. How long do you want? When’s it going to happen?
If its broadcast, is it live or is it recorded? Is it face to face, ‘down the line’, FaceTime, Skype or phone? In a studio, in the field, in a kitchen?! And is it just us or is there somebody else? And if there is a ‘somebody else’, do they go first followed by us…us, followed by them…or are you planning to put both of us on together?
If it’s recorded, how long have we got? Is this a clip for a news package? Or is it a standalone piece for a news bulletin? What’s the context if it’s a package? How long will it be? When’s it being transmitted? Who else have you spoken to – and what have they said?
3. The ‘K’ stands for who you might ‘know’ who fits the bill. This is on the assumption that you’ve weighed up the pros and cons and decided to do it.
Who in your organisation would be the best person to contribute? Is this one for the top table? Or will a more middle ranking figure do?
Remember, journalists are seldom happy with you – the Comms professional: 25 years ago, we may have been happy to talk to the conduit which linked the business with the media.
These days, with the greatest respect, we’re after the organ grinder and not the monkey.
So there you have it. It’s not difficult. It just requires a bit of gumption, stamina and determination to find out all the facts first.
Reporters are very good at transferring their stress on to you, citing deadlines, Rottweiler editors and – in TV – the news desk’s impending theft of their camera crew, as reasons for DOING IT NOW!
Keep your head, remember to ASK – and take back control, as someone once said.