Working with the Media: A Guide for Volunteer Organizations and Commissions

Have statistics available that you can refer to and provide to the reporter.

Ask if there is a preferred setting or background for the interview. If the weather is nice and not too windy, outside is usually better for television. If the topic is about something like open space, go to the open space for the interview and pictures. Consider what type of pictures and sound will bring the story to life for the viewers.

Dress professionally, but make sure that you are comfortable. Avoid light-colored clothing, especially white for a television interview. White causes there to be less light on your face, and it looks better when your face is well lit and in contrast to a dark shirt. In addition, avoid shirts with fine or high-contrast stripes, because these can interfere with the television picture.

Check a mirror before a television interview or picture to make sure you don’t have food or something else on your clothing; the reporter will not always notice.

If the interview is inside, turn down any background music or noise ahead of time.

Have many interview options available, but don’t be offended if the reporter doesn’t want to use some of them. You need to understand the time hole that the reporter is trying to fill with your story. Remember to find out how long the piece will air. If the reporter only needs one sound bite and 40 seconds of pictures, don’t exhaust yourself coming up with different ideas. The reporter won’t have time to use them. The pictures and the stories you are sharing are both important for television.

For radio, the interview content is what is important.

Newspapers will be looking for a good story and a picture that best exemplifies the theme of the story.

Relax and enjoy yourself. This is an opportunity that many people would love to have.

Feature Stories

Feature stories document a person or event that is unique or important. Although commissions and volunteer organizations can write feature stories, the best approach is to use your personal contacts, pitch letter, and news releases to inspire a reporter or editor to do a feature story on your organization or an important issue or project.

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