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Media Dos & Don'ts

Oops! Media Dos and Dont'sIt’s to your advantage to exercise as much control as possible when you’re talking to a reporter. After the reporter completes the interview, you have no further control. The following tips will help you maintain control:

1 When you represent a Realtor® Association, anything you say will be credited to the Association, even though you state that it’s your opinion and not the organization’s. You should, therefore, refrain from using the pronoun “I” in interviews. When you use the word we, your brain will tend to condition your answers to the views of the Association and not your personal views.

2 Listen closely to the question, and don’t interrupt it with an answer. It’s likely that the question will not be the one you thought was being asked. This is particularly true with print reporters.

3 Don’t answer immediately. If the interview is in person, divert your eyes from the reporter’s—glancing down is a good technique—and take your time to ponder both the question and your impending answer.

4 Listen to your answer. Since your brain works faster than your mouth, run the answer through your brain before you speak.

5 Answer only the question that was asked and be as brief as possible in doing so. Don’t ramble.

6 Don’t fill gaps. Typically a reporter will hesitate after you finish answering a question, hoping you’ll continue and perhaps provide new thoughts for other questions.

7 Be careful of the words you use even in an e-mail. Many careers have been ruined by poor word choices.

8 Don’t ever say, “No comment.” To a reporter, this statement means that you know the answer but don’t want to provide it.

9 Don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know.” You’re not expected to know everything. If it’s something you should know, you might say you will research it and get back to the reporter.

10 Don’t answer hypothetical or speculative questions.

11 Don’t comment on quotes the reporter may attribute to someone else if you have no knowledge of the quote.

12 Don’t talk with your face. Keep a pleasant, neutral facial expression, and try not to look surprised or quizzical when questions are being asked. The reporter might read something into your expression.

13 Don’t exhibit any anger, facially or in your voice.

14 Don’t argue with a reporter.

15 Don’t pick up colorful words a reporter may use in a question. When you do so, they become your words, not the reporter’s.

16 Don’t use industry jargon. Reporters probably won’t know what it means and neither would their readers/viewers.

17 Beware of repeated questions. If you’ve already answered a question, don’t come up with a different answer, unless you also state that you have misspoken and want to correct the answer.

18 Don’t make offhand, flippant answers. They make great copy for the reporter and can embarrass you.

19 If you find a question difficult to answer, simply say, “I’ve got to think about that; let’s come back to that.” Many times, it will be forgotten.

20 Finally, if you don’t want to see it in print—or coming back to you via a radio speaker or television screen—don’t say it!

Source: Florida Association of Realtors®