Public Relations - Are you Media Ready?

Posted 16 February 2004

Media Relations is the most visible, successful, and frequently used public relations tool. This guide will help you develop skills to become media ready.

Tips On Speaking With Media

  • Be yourself.
  • Be conversational, rather than formal in your approach. Speak in short, concise sentences.
  • Express passion for your topic.
  • Be honest about your knowledge and skill levels.
  • Never say anything that you don't want to see in print or hear on the air. There is no such thing as off the record.
  • Be prepared for the interview by having a comment ready for all of the topics and issues that touch your area of expertise.
  • Each interview needs well thought out ideas. Take a second to think before speaking. If you don't understand the question, say so and it will be rephrased.
  • Choose one or two messages that are most important for the public to know. Emphasize those points through repetition and comments such as "This is very important."
  • Offer to help the interviewer with as much information as you may have available. By feeding them information, you will have a good idea of what questions will be asked of you.
  • Remember that people in the listening or viewing audience don't usually know medical jargon. Substitute common terms for the medical ones. Pretend you are talking to a client.
  • If a statement is made that is not true, refute it immediately and politely.


  • Direct your attention to the person conducting the interview, not the camera.
  • Wear conservative colors and clothing. Avoid harsh contrasts in colors and patterns. Present a profession image.
  • Try to keep movements to a minimum and underplay your gestures. Sit still in a natural and relaxed manner.
  • Be yourself! Remember, TV is an intimate medium.
  • Visual aids are always helpful. Make sure your hands and fingernails are clean.


  • Listen to the interview show ahead of time so as to know your host and audience.
  • Have facts and examples written on note cards for ready reference.
  • Be relaxed, you have more time to make your points.
  • Be careful what you say during commercial breaks, your microphone may be on.


  • Always ask what the reporter's deadline is.
  • Be flexible and prepared to change your schedule to accommodate the reporter.
  • Make friends, not enemies, with the reporters.
  • You can ask if the reporter knows when the story will run; however, usually the reporter will not be able to give you an exact date.
  • Reporters are simply a conduit for information; you are really talking to an audience.


  • Ask what the topic is and what the angle of the story is.
  • If you need time to prepare, ask if you can call the reporter back.
  • Ask the reporter if responses are going to be taped directly off the phone.
  • Answer the questions briefly and to the point. Remember nothing is off the record.

Key Points

  • Be Personable
  • Be Accurate
  • Be Careful
  • Be Exciting
  • Be Direct

Please don't hesitate to call me at 800/248-2862, ext. 6670 or Joanne at ext. 6669 if you have questions or comments about the Executive Resource Center. We hope you find it useful.

Anola Stowick
AVMA Communications Division

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