PR Training

Media relations for UC ANR

Your program and UC ANR benefit from media exposure. The news media extension ANR research results and recommendations to a large audience and the publicity information taxpayers and decision-makers about accomplishments they make possible by investing in UC Cooperative Extension.

The following media relations tips will go a long way toward making your encounters with reporters positive and productive.

Cultivate relationships

  • Allow time in your schedule to work with the news media.
  • Follow reporters on Twitter and engage with their posts. Tag them in your posts when you have new, relevant information to share.
  • Respond to media emails and phone messages as soon as you can. Many reporters need sources quickly. Tomorrow is almost always too late.
  • Help reporters find online background information, including research reports, newsletters, journal articles and other story sources.

When a reporter calls

  • Ask a few questions before the interview begins.
    • What is the reporter's name and affiliation?
    • What is the story about?
    • Who is the audience?
  • If you are not the best source, direct the reporter to another academic or to a member of the Strategic Communications team.
  • Find out the reporter's deadline.
  • Tell the reporter you will call back. Take a few minutes to form your key messages, then return the call.

Preparation

  • Prepare three key messages in simple language, no jargon. Condense each key message into two or three sentences.
  • Anticipate tough questions and rehearse your answers.
  • Compile background information about the subject for the reporter. Include your name, title, organization, phone number and email address.
  • For in-person interviews, gather visuals. Meet the reporter at a research site or in a laboratory. Set up demonstrations, prepare examples or analogies. Offer simple, clear graphics and photos.

Tips for TV

  • Be professional and polite at all times, even when the camera's not rolling.
  • Look at the reporter, not the camera.
  • If standing, stand tall with arms relaxed at your sides.
  • Avoid distracting gestures.
  • Answer in short, targeted statements.
  • Try to avoid wearing solid white or patterned shirts.

During the interview

  • State your key messages early and often. You never know when the interview will end.
  • Answer the reporter's questions and add the specific points you want to make.
  • Be honest. If you don't know an answer, say so.
  • Never say "no comment." It raises suspicion and sets up barriers. Instead, explain why you prefer not to answer the question.
  • Be aware of questions that may evoke conflict in a story. Tell your story with positive words and don't repeat a negative statement in a reporter's question.
  • For radio and TV interviews, be precise and to the point. The sound bites reporters use are only a few seconds long.
  • Close the interview by restating your main messages.
  • Invite the reporter to call back for more information or to clarify points.
  • Ask the reporter to note in the piece that you are with UC Cooperative Extension and/or UC Agriculture and Natural Resources (they often conflate UC ANR with the campuses).

Additional PR resources are available on the Learning & Development site. 

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