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Tips for Working with the Media

TCC is a trusted source in the community, so media representatives frequently contact faculty and staff for information. This is a compliment to you and to TCC. Being contacted by the media is an opportunity to share your expertise, information about programs you are promoting and good news about our institution.

The Office of Communications and Public Information encourages reporters to first call upon our office to help them with TCC questions and to set up interviews with the best TCC sources for their stories. If a member of the media contacts you about a matter that is outside your area of expertise or that relates to the institution as a whole, refer the media representative to the Office of Communications and Public Information. We will speak to the media or find an appropriate person to do so.

If a member of the media contacts you about a matter within your area of expertise, first check with the media member to see if they have been in contact with our office. It the answer is yes, and they are asking questions in your area of expertise, feel free to respond to the inquiry. If they have not contacted the Communications Office, please ask them to do so first.

When commenting on a matter within your area of expertise:

  1. Take time to think about your responses if you wish. You may want to ask the media representative if you can call back in a few minutes. This doesn’t mean you should “script” your answers. It’s just a chance to collect your thoughts, consult your data or decide which points you want to cover. However, don’t ask the media representative to wait for days for you to call back. Reporters are almost always on tight deadlines. You may want to ask how long the interview will take. If the reporter is just calling to learn a few details about an upcoming event, that information is probably right at your fingertips. If the reporter is calling for your opinion about a new legislative initiative, you may want to gather your thoughts and relevant information.

  2. If you wish, you may also use this “time out” to call our office. We will be happy to share any information we may have about any ongoing story related to the topic you have been asked about.

  3. Shortly after your contact with the media, please inform the Office of Communications and Public Information. Our office tracks all TCC’s media contacts in order to gauge how effectively we are getting our message out about the College. Also, you may be one of several people on staff who have been contacted about the same issue. If that is the case, it will be helpful for us to know that a major story may be developing.

  4. The audience for your words is not the reporter, it is the general public. Make your answers meaningful and understandable. Don’t use technical language except when necessary. Also, the longer the sentences you use, the more likely you are to be misquoted.

  5. Even though the reporter may use only some of your information in the story, speak with care and do not say anything that you would not want to see in print, hear on the radio or find online.

  6. If a reporter wants to schedule a formal broadcast interview with you, please let the Office of Communications and Public Information know in advance so that we may provide appropriate support.

  7. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) limits your ability to share personally identifiable information about students. However, if the Office of Communication and Public Information has already generated a news release about the student and sent it to the media, the student will have already given permission to do so, and it is probably OK to comment. This may be a good time to check in with the Office of Communications and Public Information about the situation.

  8. If you feel uncomfortable talking to the media, please ask the Office of Communications and Public Information for assistance.

  9. As a rule, TCC’s relations with the media are congenial. However, if you are contacted about an issue that you consider to be highly controversial or to reflect negatively on TCC, please contact the Office of Communications and Public Information before speaking with the media.

  10. Before ending the contact, spell your name and give your accurate title. Invite the reporter to call you back with any further questions.

Types of Media Contacts

Community Outreach/Promotional

This type of contact often occurs in response to a news release that our office has sent to local media. In fact, you may have worked with us to develop the news release to promote a new program or event, inform the community about a recent success in your department, or share information about a noteworthy student who is a great representative of our institution.

Academic

This type of contact occurs because you are an expert on a certain topic, and the reporter wants to ask you for background information or wants your informed opinion. You may or may not be quoted in the story.

If you do not know the answer to a question, admit that. If appropriate, offer to find out the answer and get back in touch with reporter.

Investigative

This type of contact does not happen frequently at TCC. If you feel that the nature of the questions is controversial, please try to gather the reporter’s questions and then let the reporter know that you will need to get call back with your answers. Then contact the Communications Office to discuss responses and who should return the call with answers.

 

We are here to help you make the most of your media interactions. For questions and comments, please contact us at communications@tcc.fl.edu or (850)201-6049.

Contact Information

For more information contact the Communications Office by phone (850) 201-6049 or e-mail communications@tcc.fl.edu.

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