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What to do When a Reporter Calls

12 things you need to know when speaking with a reporter: 

  1. Ask what the deadline is.

  2. Repeat the question(s) back to the reporter for clarification.

  3. If you do have the information, answer the questions simply and honestly.

  4. Remember that you are talking to a reporter whose job is to report. Unless you know the reporter very well, do not go off the record. Off the record is like telling the jury to ignore the testimony.

  5. If you do not have the information, be honest. Say that you do not have that information available but that you will try to get it before the deadline or that you will contact the person with the information to call the reporter back.

  6. Tell the reporter who else may be calling with the information.

  7. Check back with the reporter before the deadline. Ask if the person you referred spoke with the reporter and if the reporter received satisfactory information.

  8. If you can't get the information, get back to the reporter prior to the deadline. Explain when the information will be available or explain why it is not available.

  9. Do NOT lie.

  10. Ask the reporter when the story will appear.

  11. Do not expect to receive an advance copy, or editing approval, of the story

  12. Obtain a copy of the story for your files.

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