University of Delaware
Toolbox

Preparing for an Interview with the Media

Video Camera ImageSo you’ve received a call from a reporter who wants to interview you, and you are unsure of what to do.... For assistance, please contact the UD Office of Communications and Marketing. The staff there can help you decide whether or not to grant the interview or help you prepare for an interview if you could use some advice.

The staff also periodically prepares an "In the News" roundup for the UDaily news service, so a heads-up will help them keep an eye out for the article or program you’ll be appearing in.

Should You Do the Interview?

If you're uncertain that you want to be interviewed by the media, here are some points to consider:

Helpful Pointers

Once you’ve decided to do an interview, think about the message you want to convey. Then prepare two or three key points that deliver your message simply and succinctly — in less than 30 seconds. You can develop these by anticipating the questions you think you might be asked regarding the subject or issue. Think about how the issue and your research relate to the world we live in. What is the impact on society? Why should the public care? Taxpayers support most funded research. What return are they deriving from their investment?

During the interview, you need to talk about your research in simple terms, as if you were speaking to a seventh-grade class. Avoid acronyms, long sentences, and complex terms, and be enthusiastic. You know your research better than anyone, and this is an opportunity to share your knowledge and insights with the public.

Also be aware that there is no such thing as "off the record" when talking to the media. Stick to what you know, and don't comment on areas outside your expertise. UD Communications and Marketing staff may be able to recommend another expert on campus if the reporter is seeking answers to questions that are outside your field.

""

In the Ocean Engineering Lab at UD, researchers James Kirby, right, and
Jack Puleo are interviewed about rip currents by the CBS "Early Show."

Print Media Interviews. If you are doing an interview in person with a reporter from the print media, wear what you normally would to work. If the interview is over the phone, you may find it helpful to jot down a few notes before you begin, but don't read off your responses.

Radio Interviews. For a radio interview, listeners will know you only by your voice, so avoid speaking in a monotone. Professionals recommend smiling to animate the voice. You may be interviewed over the phone or a mobile device, in the studio at a radio station, or in UD’s studio at University Media Services. In a studio situation, the sound engineer will do a voice check before the interview begins. Be sure to maintain the same distance from the microphone throughout the interview to keep the volume consistent.

TV Interviews. For a TV interview, the crew might want to interview you in your lab, in the field, or in their studio. TV crews typically film several stories in a day, so they likely will be moving quickly to set up cameras and prepare you with a microphone that can be threaded underneath your shirt or blouse.

The more interviews you do, the more comfortable you will become talking to the media about your research. It’s important to remember that most people spend their lives outside the classroom, depending on the print and broadcast media as key sources of information. Thus, the media can play a major role in helping to increase public awareness and understanding of UD research and major scientific and social issues and advances.

The American Geophysical Union’s excellent publication "You and the Media: A Researcher's Guide for Effectively Dealing with the News Media" is the primary source for this information.