Members of the media may contact any member of the University requesting comment or information. It can be daunting speaking with journalists without notice, so the media relations team is on hand to ensure that journalists get the information they need at the right time and from the right people.
Faculty members who are contacted by journalists can contact the media relations team for advice and support, but are at liberty to engage with media at any time.
Advice for staff
The following tips should be followed by staff who are contacted by journalists.
Contact by phone
Employees should take the following steps if contacted by a journalist by phone or in person:
- Inform the journalist that they should contact the media relations team
- If the journalist is insistent, try to obtain as much information about the journalist as possible before calling/emailing the details to the media relations team. You should ensure you get:
- Journalist’s name
- Email address
- Phone number
- Nature of the enquiry
- What their deadline is
- Do not promise to give an interview or confirm whether you are the appropriate spokesperson
- Do not confirm or deny any information on the initial call
- Tell the journalist that someone from the media relations team will get back to them
- Inform the media relations team as soon as possible
Contact by email
Staff should take the following steps if contacted by a journalist by email/letter/social media:
- Do not reply
- Forward (do not reply and cc), as soon as possible, the email/letter to the media relations team to seek advice
- Never forward emails from the media relations team to a journalist
Advice for faculty
The following tips may be helpful for faculty members who are approached by media. More tips for interviews are available.
- Journalists are often working on tight deadlines, so it is helpful to respond their queries as quickly as possible and always that same day.
- Respond to the caller (phone or email) within their deadline. Let them know if there will be a difficulty in meeting their requirements.
- Try to work out whether you are the right expert to comment on the enquiry. Consider passing the journalist to the media relations team if you are not, so that an appropriate Waterloo expert can be found.
- Proactively get as many details as you can from the journalist.
- Don’t be tempted to simply provide the answer to the question. Ask the journalist: why the interest? Try to find out what lies behind the call. What is the story angle? What story are they trying to write? How will your remarks be used?
- It’s always best to prepare for media engagements, so do not feel compelled to offer remarks if a journalist calls you. It’s often best to gather information from the journalist and agree a time to talk, which allows you time to compose your thoughts and formulate your answers.
- Assume all interviews and telephone calls are recorded. This is often for note-taking purposes but with rare exceptions, it is legal for media outlets to air a telephone conversation between you and their journalist.
- Make sure that you record comprehensive contact details for the journalist.
- Remember that there is really no such thing as off-the-record.