March 2, 2020

Ten Tips for Speaking with Media

  1. The president is the designated spokesperson for the PTA. The board should refer all media contact to the president or if that is not possible, to another designated board member.
  2. Return calls and requests for comment from the media whenever possible. Even when the topic is difficult, these can be important relationships to build for your PTA.   Be prompt – reporters work on deadlines.
  3. When something big is happening in your community, be prepared for some media attention. Work on a message ahead of time.
  4. Relate your message to the PTA mission and vision. How is your PTA focusing on what is best for children and families?
  5. Be factual and accurate. If you do not know the answer to a question, it’s okay to say so.  Steer clear of opinion, speculation, judgment, and accusation.
  6. There is no such thing as “off the record.” Everything you say will be on the record, so consider your words carefully.
  7. If you are contacted by the media but are not prepared to answer questions immediately, ask if you can return their call. Then take some time to prepare your thoughts and your message.
  8. Do not say “no comment,” (unless you have been advised to do so by legal counsel.) Always insist on the opportunity to share your message. You can build bridges from what the reporter asks to your PTA’s message. Here are a few phrases to try:
    • “Yes, and in addition to that…” (add your message.)
    • “No.  Let me explain…” (add your message.)
    • “I don’t know.  What I do know is….” (add your message.)
    • “Although that may be what you’re covering, what we feel is important is…”
    • “I think the real question is…”
    • “You mentioned a lot of things, but what it boils down to is…”
    • “Although that is a challenge, what we want to focus on is…”
  9. Reflect the real stories and concerns in your community. What the reporter is looking for and the story you have to tell may be quite different – always tell your story!
  10. If you make a mistake during an interview, always go back and correct it. Even if it happened several questions ago, your credibility depends on the accuracy of what is stated.

For more tips on working with the media, visit the National PTA website:

Category: Leadership

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