Tips for Communicating with the Media

When faculty members speak to the media, the ensuing media coverage can benefit both the faculty member and the university.

Publicity can heighten the public’s interest in the faculty member’s research, encourage students to take classes taught by that faculty member and increase the faculty member’s chances of obtaining additional funding for his or her research.

Publicity can also raise awareness of new and innovative research happening at LSU, which benefits the university as a whole.

Here are some tips for faculty members who plan to do media interviews:

  1. Contact the Media Relations department. Inform them of your plans to do an interview. They can provide additional tips for getting your message across in the media, and they keep track of media clippings and inform the LSU administration of the best clips each month.
  2. Be prepared. Find out what the interview is about and be prepared to discuss the topic.
  3. Develop a few key messages about your research. These should be brief, to the point and should show how LSU research affects the average person. The more profound and colorful these statements, the more likely they are to be used by the media as quotes or sound bytes.
  4. Simplify. Be direct and whittle down to the basics. The reporter’s job is to tell the story to the public, usually on an 8th-grade level. Most reporters will only have limited knowledge of your work and limited time to prepare the story for TV or the newspaper. The more you simplify it for them, the more likely that the story will be accurate and informative.
  5. Avoid industry jargon or technical language. You must be understandable to everyone.
  6. If you don’t know, say so. It’s okay to tell a reporter you don’t know the answer to a question. Offer to find out and get back to them. Don’t speculate or make up an answer that could turn out to be incorrect.
  7. Always be professional and polite. Anything you say or do can be quoted by the reporter, so don’t forget that you are always “on the record.”
  8. Speak slowly. Everyone tends to speak faster than normal when being interviewed. So if you practice speaking slowly, you’ll probably end up being just right on camera.
  9. You represent LSU. Even though you may be discussing your own research, you will be identified as an LSU faculty member, so you are representing the university.
  10. Don’t ask to see a story before it runs. The media typically don’t have time for this and generally don’t show their stories to their sources ahead of time.
  11. Remember your appearance. If you are doing a TV interview, remember to dress professionally; speak confidently; sit with good posture; don’t “talk with your hands”; don’t wear large or noisy jewelry that will distract the viewers; don’t wear stripes, patterns or bright colors, such as red, because they don’t photograph well on TV.


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