University Relations

Tips for When a Reporter Calls

  • Obtain the reporter's name, media affiliation and how you can help the reporter. If you are not the appropriate person to respond to the question, refer the reporter to University Relations,
    (309) 298-1993.
  • Try to schedule a face-to-face interview when complex materials need an in-depth explanation. A phone interview is also acceptable, as is answering questions via e-mail.
  • If you are not prepared when the reporter calls, say you need a few minutes to pull some support material and will call back. Respect the reporter's deadlines. In many cases, they need a response in minutes. Failing to respond may give the perception of a negative situation. Always feel free to contact University Relations for guidance/information.
  • Have a message. Prepare a single communication objective and two or three secondary points. This will help assure your answers are consistent and complete.
  • Be brief when talking to radio and TV reporters. State your point in simple, positive terms. Avoid repeating negative words from a reporter's question. Be sincere.
  • Assume everything you say to a reporter, even in a social setting, may appear in print.

  • Be friendly, but avoid forced humor or flippant comments.
  • Understand that conflict is news; routine isn't. Reporters may frame questions to bring out the conflict in a story. The reporter is after the story, not the person being interviewed.
  • Don't expect a reporter to show you the story before it is broadcast or printed. If you believe a point has not been understood, follow up with a phone call for clarification.
  • If you are misquoted, contact the reporter rather than the editor or news director (University Relations can assist in this area).
  • Avoid "no comment" answers. They suggest guilt or evasion. Explain why you are unable to respond.
  • Above all, be honest. In some cases the truth hurts, but lies are more harmful. If you don't know the answer, say so. If possible, help the reporter get the answer or refer the reporter to University Relations.