Media Interview Guide for Faculty
A Guide to Good Press
As a Mizzou Engineering faculty member, you might be called upon by reporters as an expert in your field.
This guide will offer tips to navigate media interviews from start to finish.
If you are contacted for an interview, please fill out this form. We’ll be happy to help you prepare.
Remember, in every media interview you are representing your department, your College and MU.
- Make yourself accessible
- Before an Interview
- During an Interview
- After an Interview
- Collaborative Projects
- Contact us
Can reporters find you?
- Make it easy for reporters to find your credentials and research interests.
- Keep your online contact page up to date.
- This includes contact information, research tags and your bio.
- To update your page, use our online form.
The early bird gets the interview.
- Reporters will choose whoever is readily available and responds first.
- The more accessible you are, the more likely that you will be contacted for an interview.
- Stories on deadlines will usually run regardless of whether you’re available.
- If you cannot provide information before the reporter’s deadline, please refer the call to Communications, and we will try to find another expert to comment in time.
Interviews After Hours
- Breaking news often happens during non-business hours.
- The more accessible you are, the more likely you are to be contacted.
- We will never give your personal phone numbers to the media without your permission.
- If you are contacted at an inconvenient time after business hours, propose a more appropriate time to speak with the reporter.
Keep us in the loop
- We want to keep track of and promote news about Mizzou Engineering!
- Fill out this form to let us know when you have upcoming interviews.
- We can help you locate attractive spots for on-camera interviews and help you prepare talking points.
If you are contacted directly by a reporter…
Make sure to get
- the reporter’s name
- media affiliation
- a phone number or e-mail address
- the deadline for the story
If you need some preparation before the interview:
- Tell the reporter you will call back as soon as possible.
- Ask the reporter what questions will be asked so you can formulate answers beforehand.
- Contact us for assistance.
- We can talk you through possible questions and help you tailor your responses into quotable statements or soundbites.
Know Your Rights
Before you agree to an interview, you have the right to know information about the reporter and media outlet, such as:
- The reporter’s name
- The publication/outlet they represent
- The subject of the interview
- The length of the interview
- Will there be other guests? (for a talkshow)
- Will there be an audience? (for a talkshow)
- Is this live or taped?
- Who else is the reporter interviewing?
If you have questions about a reporter’s credentials or about a media outlet, contact us.
Ask about the format of the interview.
- Is this piece in print, digital, video or audio formats for publication, television, radio or for the web?
- Will it be taped on campus and edited for broadcast later?
- Is it a live interview on the phone?
- Is it a live or taped interview at the studio/news set?
Prepare your talking points.
- Prepare main messages you would like to work into your responses.
- Prepare answers for the most difficult questions you think might be asked.
What to wear
- If the setting allows, wear professional clothing with Mizzou and College of Engineering logos.
- For TV interviews, producers recommend solid, dark, comfortable clothing.
- Avoid bold or distracting patterns and wild jewelry or makeup.
Never be used as an anonymous source.
- Reporters typically need “sound bites” for their stories.
- Try answer questions in complete, self-contained and succinct sentences rather than with “yes” or “no.”
- Try to speak in active rather than passive voice:
- “The technology will impact national defense needs.” vs. “National defense needs will be impacted by this technology.”
- When you’re done answering a question, stop talking. Don’t ramble.
- Always tell the truth.
- If you don’t know the answer to a question, just say so.
- Don’t speculate.
- If a question is based on false information, correct it.
Think before you speak
- If it’s a difficult question, ask the interviewer to rephrase.
- If your interviewer is hostile, don’t raise your voice.
- The voice of reason does not shout.
- Especially if the story is for the general public, it is best to avoid using technical terminology.
“Off the Record”
- The term “off the record” can mean different things to different people.
- Don’t say anything to a reporter off the record.
- Never say “no comment.”
- It could imply you are hiding something or are uncooperative.
Tips for TV interviews
- Look at the reporter instead of the camera.
- Be aware of your posture and body language.
- If you have visuals photographs, artwork or graphics that could help tell a story on-screen, let the reporter know.
If you are sharing statistics for the interview, email the numbers or tables to the reporter to avoid misunderstandings.
Keep us in the loop
- Tell us when the story will air or appear in print.
- If the article is online, send a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tell us: How did it go? How can we help you for future interviews?
Too often, media report on research projects that couldn’t have happened without engineers, yet they fail to mention engineering.
- Reporters are often limited by space and time constraints, but what they don’t know, they can’t report on.
- Make sure reporters know why engineering is essential to the story.
- Ask your collaborators to mention engineering during their interviews about the project.